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" What calJs for vengeance but a woman's cause.''— pope. 





Printed by A. Schulze, 13, Poland Street. 






This Book has grown out of a publication of 
one hundred and forty pages which appeared, in 
September last, under the title of " The Friends, 
Foes, and Adventures of Lady Morgan." Such 
points in that work as seemed worthy of preserva- 
tion have been embodied, with a mass of new mat- 
ter, in the following pages. Notwithstanding that 
u The Friends, Foes, and Adventures of Lady 
Morgan" had many faults, it met with a favorable 
reception, both from the friends of her Ladyship, 
and from some of the leading literary organs — a 
circumstance which encouraged the author to en- 
deavour to make it more worthy of the subject, 
and of the kind opinions expressed,* by devoting 

* A. few are subjoined by way of illustration. 

The Athenaeum in the course of a long Review, said, 
" Good and honest . . curious . . pleasant . . The writer has 
bestowed his heart not less than his industry upon his task . . 
A volume full of good things, and informed with a genuine love. 
We foresee a demand for the book at the libraries with the 
speedy issue of a new edition . . The most serious part of his 
labour is a reply to Croker's malignant articles. He answers 
Croker, not like Lady Morgan with airy banter and delightful 
mockery, but with solid fact. Mr. Fitzpatrick has given us a 
work to which we may refer all those who may be in search of 



the entire of his leisure to a series of troublesome 

some trustworthy information about ' Lady Morgan, her Friends, 
Foes and Adventures/ " 

The Literary Gazette said: u It is not our intention to 
undertake the vindication of Lady Morgan's character, or to ex- 
plain away her idiosyncracies, for that is sufficiently well done 
in this little volume . . Our readers will find a great deal of 
information touching the history of this very remarkable 
woman, as well as a great deal relating to her family and con- 
nections. The following extracts show so well the spirit of the 
writer, and are so full of eloquence, that we cannot resist the 
temptation of giving them." 

Notes and Queries said : " Pleasant, genial, and gossiping, on 
that most brilliant of Ireland's daughters. The author has suc- 
ceeded in throwing much new and interesting light upon Lady 
Morgan's early life and labours, and produced a book creditable 
to her memory and to his own talents. Mr. Fitzpatrick's valuable 
* Note on the Cornwallis Papers' gave evidence of the store of cu- 
rious materials for the literary and political history of Ireland 
which he has at his command ; and the present volume encou- 
rages us to hope that we may soon be favoured with fresh evi- 
dence of his readiness and ability to make use of them." 

The leading literary organs of Lady Morgan's native country, 
were still more flattering in their estimate. The Daily Express, 
a Conservative Journal, said : " The author has not placed his 
name upon the title-page ; but we believe there is but one man 
in the United Kingdom who could have produced this work. The 
spirit of inquiry which exhausts every source of information — 
the intimate acquaintance with files of newspapers half a century 
old, with ancient almanacks and directories, and all sorts of con- 
temporary records — the perseverance and the tact — the Catholic 
and Celtic sympathies combined with tolerant sentiments and 
enlarged views — the quiet humour — the genial spirit and racy 
style — the ardent love of literary biography inspired by intense 
nationality, all point to the author of the ' Note on the Corn- 
wallis Papers,' and the ' Life and Times of Lord Cloncurry,' as 
the writer of the ' Friends, Foes, and Adventures of Lady Mor- 
gan.' A professed literateur would make two splendid volumes 
out of these materials, and the published price would be a 
guinea. Mr. Fitzpatrick does not stop to beat out his gold into 
thin leaf ; he collects the grains of the precious metal as dili- 
gently and eagerly as an Australian digger, and deals out his 
accumulated treasures as prodigally. The public, however, are 
the gainers, and we thank the learned and accomplished author." 

The Dublin Telegraph, said ; " Evidently the author of this 


researches having for their object the increased in- 
terest, and authenticity of the Book. 

" Lady Morgan, her Career, Literary and Per- 
sonal/' aspires to the rank of almost a perfectly 
new work; and it ought not, therefore, to be re- 
garded as a mere Second Edition, honorable as that 
position undoubtedly is. Notwithstanding the adage 
which assures us that " there is nothing new under 
the sun/' the author is not without hope that 
readers may be found who will recognise some no- 
velty in these pages. Many of the documents now 
appear in print for the first time, and others, long 
forgotten, have been exhumed from repositories 
inaccessible to the general public. 

A considerable amount of the information fur- 
nished, concerns, it may be observed, the early 
Life and Parentage of Lady Morgan. The following 
remark expressed by the " Athenaeum" on May 7, 
1859, may be said to have suggested this part of 
the task. 

" So very little is known of Lady Morgan's early 
life — and so much debate has been held upon it in 

work is the right man in the right place. He has dealt with a 
worthy subject in a worthy way, and in less than 150 pages has 
accumulated a mass of illustrative material, anecdotes, and social 
revelations which must have cost him a world of research. All 
this is put together in so lucid, fluent, and workmanlike a man- 
ner, as to leave a regretful feeling on the mind that he had not 
extended his volume into one of quadruple the size. Its author 
deserves the gratitude of every Irishman." 

" Chivalrous and patriotic, complete and irresistible." — Nation. 

" I rejoice," writes Mrs. S. C. Hall, " that an Irishman has 
been found with sufficient chivalry to stand by Lady Morgan's 
honoured grave, and plant there the Irish flag !" 



the political aud literary squabbles of party men 
and women— that any light is welcome." 

The first chapter is almost entirely devoted to a 
narrative of Robert Owenson's theatrical career, 
and to a picture of the Irish stage at the close of 
the last century. 

It need not be feared that the present work will 
clash or interfere with a volume entitled " Passages 
from my Autobiography, by Sydney, Lady Mor- 
gan," but which is merely an amusing Diary, co- 
vering a period of less than nine months, i. e. from 
August 1818 to May 1819. From this Book I 
have not made a single extract but one. That 
" Lady Morgan, her Career, Literary and Per- 
sonal" has been regarded as the reverse of intru- 
sive, is sufficiently evident from the fact that her 
Ladyship's immediate relatives and literary exe- 
cutors have awarded to it their full meed of ap- 

The Author, in conclusion, has to beg the 
reader's indulgence, both for the delay which has 
arisen in the publication of the work, and for some 
traces of the absence of revision which he fears may 
exist in its pages. The revision of the proof sheets 
met with a serious interruption by a tedious illness, 
which had very nearly proved fatal to the author's 
own u Career, Literary and Personal' 3 

Kilmacud Manor, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, 
St. Patrick's Day (March 17) I860.' 



A native of the Backs. — An Irish Hedge-School eighty years ago. 
— Mac Owen conforms. — Accepts the office of steward to a 
Mayo gentleman. — Prefers the Thespian art to Agriculture. — 
Stage-struck. — Dismissed from service. — A Dilemma. — Writes to 
Dr. Goldsmith. — The response and result. — Garrick. — The club 
in Gerrard Street. — Mac Owen a player, vocalist, and composer. 
— Attacked by the Theatrical Eeview. — " Mr. Owenson, from 
the Theatre Royal Covent Garden." — An Elopement and pur- 
suit. — Tragedy abandoned as a bad job. — Birth of Sydney 
Owenson. — Pleasant Ned Lysaght. — " A Sprig of Shillalah." — 
Owenson's debut on the Dublin boards. — Becomes a theatric 
proprietor. — Thomas Ryder, lessee and player. — Richard Brins- 
ley Sheridan. — Clytus and; the Javelin. — Owenson's series of 
characters at Crow Street. — Kane O'Hara. — Owenson and Mrs. 
Jordan. — A bad pay. — Owenson becomes a wine merchant, but 
soon resumes the sock and buskin. — Dons female attire. — The 
Beggar's Opera publicly prohibited. — Daly and his Duels. 1 


Owenson on the staff of Mrs. Billington's admirers. — Her history. 
— Smock Alley Theatre. — Owenson a Manager. — " The Musick 
Hall in Fishamble Street." — Reconciliation with Daly. — Birth 
of Olivia Owenson. — Cumberland and his Major O'Flaherty. — 
Owenson's patronage of Dermody. — His History. — Sydney 
Owenson alleged to have been on the stage. — Sent to School. 
— Death of Mrs. Owenson. — Sydney's Lines to her mother's 



memory. — A Model "Widower. — Owenson threatens to throw 
an arm full of Ensigns out of window. — Friar Tuck, Counsellor 
Flummery, Sergeant Jack, and Captain O'Cutter. — George 
Colman. — The Sham Squire. — Owenson hires the Derry play- 
house. — Peep o' Day Boys. — Connaught. — The Duke of Wel- 
lington flogged. — Samuel Whyte. — A Cork audience. — Letter 
from Miss Owenson to her father. — A sudden death. . 33 


Sydney Owenson introduced to the Connaught gentry. — "0 
whistle and I will be with you my lad." — A Beau for Miss 
Owenson. — Sligo Abbey. — The Post Boy. — "No letters." — A 
French fleet arrives in Killala Bay. — Defeat of the British 
Army. — Debt, difficulties, and seizure. — Owenson a ruined 
man. — Many sorrows and few friends. — Sydney Owenson's first 
book. — The subscribers. — Patronized by Lady Moira. — Miss 
Owenson precedes Moore in collecting the melodies of her 
native country. — Becomes a Novelist. — St. Clair, or the Heiress 
of Desmond. — Sligo again. — A pestle and mortar assists in 
composing " St. Clair." — " The Novice of St. Dominick." — 
Dermody's last Interview with Miss Owenson. . . 71 


Croker's " Familiar Epistles." — The Scourging Censor lashed in 
return.— -Sir M. Crofton.— Tyreragh.— " The Wild Irish Girl" 
begun. — The Originals from whom the Characters were drawn. 
— State of Ireland prior to the publication of " The Wild Irish 
Girl." — The Search for a publisher. — Panic of Phillips. — John- 
son's generous Offer respectfully declined. — Peter Pindar's 
Suggestion. — Atkinson. — Lord IJardwicke. — Sydney Owenson 
assailed bv the Castle Scribes. — Extracts from the Diatribes 
of M. T.— Defended by a " Son of Ireland/'— William Pitt 
reads " The Novice of St. Dominick." . . .102 


Miss Owenson patronised in high quarters. — Public demonstration 
in her honour. — Becomes a Dramatist. — The Prologue. — 
M. T. again. — Beats a Retreat. — " Mr. Owenson's Night." — 
Curran, Grattan, Bushe, Plunk et. — Great success of " The Wild 
Irish Girl." — Patriotic Sketches. — The authoress in Connaught. 
— Thady Connellan. — The Lay of an Irish Harp. — Miss 
Owenson appeals on behalf of the Poor. — " Sweep — Sweep." — 



" Ida of Athens." — Miss Owenson sets aside the Decision of a 
Judge and Jury. — Stanmore Priory. — "The Missionary." — Mar- 
riage of Sydney Owenson. — A Romance of Real Life. — Sir 
Charles Morgan. — Death of Robert Owenson. — Sir Arthur 
Clarke. — " O'Donnel." — Correspondence with Monk Mason. 



Critics' Cavils.— Sir W. Scott's opinion of "O'Donnel."— Sir C. and 
Lady Morgan's visit to France. — Publication of her Great 
Work. — Theattack of the " Quarterly." — Eeply to that Attack. — 
Lady Morgan grapples with her assailants. — Southey. — George 
the Third suggests to the f* Quarterly." — Correspondence. — 
Jack GifFard. — The French Press on Lady Morgan. — Byron. — 
" Florence M'Carthy." — Correspondence. — Croker pilloried by 
Lady Morgan. — The Slanders upon her Fame and Name. — Lady 
Morgan's work on Italy. — Lady Caroline Lamb. — Lady Cork. — 
Denon and La Fayette. — Lady Morgan's Salon in Paris. — Her 
Singular Success. — Praised by Byron. — The " Quarterly " again. 
— 44 Glorvina ! Glorvina ! beware of the day !" . . 173 


A long chapter in which Lady Morgan presents her Critics with 
a Rowland for an Oliver. — Thomas Campbell. — The Critical 
Chronomastix. — William Jerdan. — The " Quarterly." — Gibbets 
galore. — Col burn's letter. — " The British Critic." — Cyrus Red- 
ding. — Shoals of Slanderers and Snakes in the Grass. — Attempt 
to deprive Sir C. Morgan of his Knighthood. — Apathy of 
Jeffrey. — M Life of Salvator Rosa " published. — " Absenteeism." 
— Writings and Character of Sir C. Morgan.— Receptions in 
Kildare Street. — Maturin. — Sir J. B 's rebuff. — Curry's re- 
tort. — A Masquerade. — Lady Morgan in the snow. — Dublin 
Castle. — " The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys." — Lady Morgan 
the immediate cause of the birth of the " Athenaeum." — Prince 
Pucklar Moskau. — Lady Morgan's lines on the Ladies Paget. — 
Her second book on France. — Correspondence. — Lady Morgan 
pensioned. — 44 Book of the Boudoir." — 44 The Princess." — Mrs. 
S. C. Hall.— Lady Morgan changes her residence to London. 



Publication of 44 Dramatic Scenes" and 44 Woman and her 
Master." — " The Book without a Name" — Lady Morgan in 



Heidelberg and Baden Baden. — Letters from Sir C. and Lady 
Morgan. — Unpublished Lines of Horace Smith. — Death of Sir 
C Morgan. — How to Rear Young Ladies. — Table Talk of Lady 
Morgan. — Death of Lady Clarke. — Republication of Lady Mor- 
gan's early works. — She again befriends the Poor. — Cardinal 
Wiseman. — The Battle of the Chairs. — Salvator Rosa. — Lady 
Morgan lends out her Services as Hostess. — Popularity of her 
Boudoir. — She makes her Will. — Impromptu lines by Lady 
Morgan — Her address to " the Athenaeum." — More Table 
Talk. — Prostrated by Bronchitis. — Publication of " Passages 
from my Autobiography." — Poetical Address to Lady Morgan's 
Respirator. — Death and Funeral of Lady Morgan.— Westma- 
cott's Monument to her memory. .... 266 

The Great Moral of Her Life. 





A native of the Backs. — An Irish Hedge-School eighty years ago. 
— Mac Owen conforms. — Accepts the office of steward to a 
Mayo gentleman. — Prefers the Thespian art to Agriculture. — 
Stage-struck. — Dismissed from service. — A Dilemma. — Writes to 
Dr. Goldsmith. — The response and result. — Garrick. — The club 
in Gerrard Street. — Mac Owen a player, vocalist, and composer. 
— Attacked by the Theatrical Review. — " Mr. Owenson, from 
the Theatre Royal Covent Garden." — An Elopement and pur- 
suit. — Tragedy abandoned as a bad job. — Birth of Sydney 
Owenson. — Honest Ned Lysaght. — " A Sprig of Shillalah." — 
Owenson's debut on the Dublin boards. — Becomes a theatric 
proprietor. — Thomas Ryder, lessee and player. — Richard Rrins- 
ley Sheridan. — Clytus and the Javelin. — Ow r enson's rolle of 
characters at Crow Street. — Kane O'Hara. — Owenson and Mrs. 
Jordan. — A bad pay. — Owenson becomes a wine merchant, but 
soon resumes the sock and buskin. — Dons female attire. — The 
Beggar's Opera publicly prohibited. — Daly and his Duels. 

The Backs is a district situate between Lough 
Conn, with its myriad islands crowned by castellated 
and monastic fragments, and the Eiver Moy, or 




Muadius, in the barony of Tirawley, and county 
of Mayo. Here, in the year of our Lord, 1744, 
Robert Mac Owen was born. He sprang from the 
old Milesian Irish family of Bally-Mac- Owen, in the 
county of Sligo, and belonged — as we have been 
informed by Doctor John O'Donovan — to the 
Hy-Piachrach race. His father and mother were 
pious Catholics, who, in the face of strong tempta- 
tions to the contrary, had clung, with singular 
fidelity, to the old faith throughout that long and 
gloomy night of persecution which succeeded the 
violation of the Treaty of Limerick. " Acts to Pre- 
vent the further Growth of Popery," were every day 
being passed, and seminaries for the education of 
the Catholic people did not exist even through 
connivance. A tolerably organized Hedge-School, 
moving from field to field, something on the 
principle of a flying camp, occasionally caught the 
eye of some zealous village loyalist, who, at the head 
of a few devoted followers, gave chase and dis- 
persed it ; but nothing of a more ambitious acade- 
mic character was, for many years subsequently, 
suffered to flourish. At an early age, Robert Mac 
Owen was placed under the care of the Hedge-School 
master of the Backs, who, in the midst of black- 
berries and cowslips, taught his pupil how to read 
and write. The boy was an apt scholar, and gave 
pleasure, it is said, to the old Philomath. But Mac 
Owen's religious principles do not seem to have been 
as firmly rooted as his parents'. He saw and envied 
the swagger of conscious ascendancy and social supe- 
riority with which the Protestant portion of the popu- 
lation pursued the tenor of their way. He felt 
with humiliation his politically degraded condition ; 
and unable to brook it longer, we find him repairing 
one fine morning to the Parish minister, who in front 



of the Communion Table unlocked — not with " the 
Key of Heaven/' but with " the Book of Common 
Prayer" — Mac Owen's chains, and set the helot 
politically free. 

His emancipation, however, does not seem to have 
enabled him to grasp any of the good things of the 
state, for, a few years afterwards, we obtain a glimpse 
of Mac Owen discharging the unostentatious duties 
of steward to Sir John Browne, of Castle Margaret, 
county of Mayo. He filled this office not ineffi- 
ciently, but gave, it is said, more time to reading and 
witnessing plays than altogether pleased his em- 
ployer. To participate in the excitement and fun of 
the strolling dramatic exhibitions which, at that time, 
thronged Connaught, he frequently absented himself 
from the sphere of his jurisdiction at Castle Margaret. 
He became stage struck, and yearned for the London 
Boards. He began to cultivate the graces of elocution, 
and to cease cultivating land ; he liked alliteration and 
recitation, was fonder of Shakspeare than of sheep- 
shearing, and thought more highly of the Hay market 
and Covent Garden than of hay-making or gardening. 
Mac Owen, in short, began to neglect the duties of 
his office sadly, and more than once indignantly 
astonished Sir John Browne by passionately alluding 
to certain flocks upon the Grampian Hills to which 
the Baronet had no manner of claim. Every day 
confirmed Mac Owen more strongly in his theatrical 
tendencies. In intrepid defiance of the "pooh 
poohs V s and scowls of his agricultural friends, 
he openly preferred canvas scenery to the grand 
Mayo mountains, Croagh-Patrick, or Nephin ; 
and pronounced a green curtain vastly superior, 
in point of attraction, to the green swaid. Mac 
Owen was completely carried away by the fascinating 
excitement of his new vocation ; he could think of 

B 2 



nothing else, until having one day assured Sir John 
Browne that his name was Norval, and that "to be or 
not to be was the question," the indignant Baronet 
visited Mac Owen with a summary dismissal from 
his service. 

Mac Owen's emancipation from the cares of 
stewardship failed to fill him with very exuberant 
emotions. He had no money saved, and soon the 
grim realities of his position stalked unpleasantly 
before his imagination. Whither was he to turn in 
search of bread and happiness ? A lucky thought at 
last occurred to him. What if, on the strength of a 
Connaught relationship with Dr. Oliver Goldsmith, 
he should write to that great man, and solicit his aid 
and counsel ? With a trembling hand he posted a 
long letter, addressed to Dr. Goldsmith, <e attick- 
story on the stair-case Inner Temple." A correspon- 
dence ensued. The friend of Johnson and Burke en- 
tered with thorough goodnature into the matter. He 
not only expressed a cordial willingness to assist Mac 
Owen in his theatrical project, but named a day and 
place for introducing him to David Garrick, then 
manager of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. 

A few circumstantial points enable us to fix the 
date of this transaction with tolerable proximity. In 
1759, Goldsmith attacked Garrick with great viru- 
lence. Some years after, Goldsmith called upon 
Garrick to solicit his vote for an office to which the 
former aspired, but a resentful negative was the only 
reply * In 1768 we find Goldsmith and Garrick still 
disunited by pique.f But in 1772 they are "on 
very friendly terms." J As Goldsmith's light was 

* Forster's " Life and Times of Goldsmith," p. 141. 
f Davies' " Memoirs of Garrick/' v. ii. p. 154. 
j Ibid, p. 159. This book, written in the year 1780, by one 
who knew Goldsmith well, contains not a few startling passages 



finally quenched in 1774, it is reasonable to infer 
that Owenson' s introduction to Garrick took place in 
or about the year 1771. 

After the usual amount of negociation and pre- 
paration, Mac Owen at length got something to do 
on the boards, but Garrick did not consider his 
talents of sufficient calibre to hazard an appearance 
at Drury Lane. The veteran acter, we believe, gave 
him an introduction to a country manager of repute ;* 
but as a preliminary step to attaining success, Garrick 
impressed upon Mac Owen the expediency of angli- 
cising his cognomen into the softer orthography of 
Owenson.f " Would Macklin," said he, "have been 
as popular in England, had lie not laid aside the 
broguish MacLoughlin of his fathers?" The hint 
was taken, and provincial playbills soon announced 
"first appearance of Mr. Owenson on any stage." 
The debutant had too much passion for a theatrical 
life to experience the slightest emotion of timidity or 
awkwardness. He flung himself, heart and soul, into 
Every part which the stage manager allotted to him ; 
and the result was that Owenson' s engagement became 
a success. After some time he strengthened his 
popularity by calling a new accomplishment to his 

illustrative of that great man's weaknesses. Chapter xli. informs us 
that " the doctor was such a compound of absurdity, envy, and ma- 
lice, contrasted with the opposite virtues of kindness, generosity, 
and benevolence, that he might be said to consist of two distinct 
souls, and to be influenced by the agency of a good and a bad 

* The Freeman's Journal of May 28, 1812, states that Owen- 
son came out " under the auspices of Garrick, to whom he was 
introduced by Dr. Goldsmith," but we cannot find any evidence 
of Owenson having made his debut at Drury Lane. 

f Innumerable entreaties were urged with a view to make Miss 
O'Neill change her name, but all to no effect, until Sir William 
Beecher, on December 18, 1819, succeeded in effecting the deside- 
ratum, by .making her Lady Beecher. 



aid. He took lessons in singing from Doctor Arne,* 
author of the opera of " Artaxerxes/' and afterwards 
from Worgan,t the composer of the beautiful Easter 
Hymn " rlallejujah." They found Owenson an apt 
pupil, and urged him to cultivate the vocal taste, which 
he did with such effect, that our player not only mas- 
tered the science of singing, but became in a short 
time able to compose original airs, and to put new 
words and symphonies to old ones. Owenson is 
said to have been the author of many charming Irish 
airs — amongst others, " My Love's the Fairest Crea- 
ture but we are assured by Samuel Lover that in 
the original Irish of Shelv nha chonos haint, it has 
so long existed that all trace of the original composer 
is lost. An anonymous writer has pronounced 
Ow r enson to have been "the author of the music, 
with original words, of the song now popular as 
* Eory O' More/ and appropriated 'by Mr. Lover as 
his own/' but Mr. Lover denies that he ever claimed 
as his own exclusive composition, that highly popular 

Owenson, at length, attained sufficient status 
to warrant his kind friend, Dr. Goldsmith, in in- 
troducing him to the famous Literary Club in Gerrard 
Street. A sketch of Lady Morgan attributed to 
her husband, and published in the "London and 
Dublin Magazine" thirty-four years ago, mentions 
this fact. A stronger evidence of Owenson' s pleasant 
qualities of head and heart could not be cited. The 
select character of the Club was guarded with such 
jealous care, that it did not include more than twenty. 
Great fears were entertained lest Boswell should have 
been blackballed although proposed by Johnson. 
"If they had refused, Sir/' he afterwards said to 

* Freeman's Journal, Dublin, May 28th, 1812. 
f Recollections of John O'Keefe, y. i. p. 355. 



Bozzy, u they knew they'd never have got in another. 
Td have kept them all out." Johnson, in proposing 
Boswell, used the right word to express his friend's 
merit, and in defiance of his own dictionary, called 
him " a clubable man." Gerrard Street was a gay 
place in those days. In this luxurious intellectual 
den Owenson for many an evening enjoyed Johnson's 
growl, Bos well's chuckle, Goldsmith's transparent 
vanities, and Burke's pun, roared through the speak- 
ing trumpet of Sir Joshua Reynolds. 

In 1774, Owenson received through Garrick's 
influence an engagement at Covent Garden Theatre. 
It was said of Owenson, when sick of his agricultural 
life at Castle Margaret that he was " fonder of reading 
Rowe, than reaping rye ;" and this old predilection 
for Rowe was now sustained by our player attempting 
at Covent Garden, the somewhat ambitious part of 
" Tamerlane," in Rowe's celebrated tragedy of that 
name. From some of the leading newspapers Owen- 
son received praise both on the score of his com- 
manding figure, and his marked histrionic passion; 
but the "Theatrical Review" ran counter to this 
generous tone of criticism, called him " a gawkey," 
and pronounced his assumption of the part of 
"Tamerlane," as a gross insult to common sense 
and good taste. Driven from London by this 
poisoned arrow, "Mr. Owenson from the Theatre 
Royal Covent Garden," proceeded to go the round 
of the provincial houses, starring it at some, and 
accepting very subordinate parts at others — until 
having made some noise at the Shrewsbury Theatre 
he took advantage of his temporary celebrity to make 
a proposal of marriage to the daughter of a respect- 
able country gentleman named Hill, who resided 
in the neighbourhood of Shrewsbury. 

Owenson is traditionally described as a man of 



commanding stature and a persuasive tongue, who 
could break as many hearts with his blarney, as 
heads with his shillalah. Miss Jane Hill was 
rather passee ; she had no objection to natrimony, 
and rather encouraged the advances of the stalwart 
young Irishman : but her parents, regarding the 
phrase " strolling player" as one of stinging re- 
proach, indignantly resisted Mr. Owenson's suit. 
"With a face of desperate resignation the player 
withdrew from Mr. HilFs house, "positively the 
last appearance but one of Mr. Owenson." The 
attachment was dying, as Mr, and Mrs. Hill thought, 
a natural death when Miss Jane — bathed in the silver 
light of an autumnal moon — suddenly appeared one 
night at her casement, and descended into two 
colossal arms below. In less time than it takes to 
record it, the devoted pair were flying along the 
banks of the Severn in quest of happiness and a 
parson. Like thorough historians we have explored 
the route that Owenson and his lady are believed 
to have taken. Lime trees of enormous altitude 
gothically over-arch the road for several miles along 
the banks of the river, and resemble an endless 
cathedral aisle. At Litchfield, Mr. and Mrs. Owen- 
son were, we believe, married. The ceremony had 
happily concluded ere old Mr. Hill, teeming with 
perspiration, and foaming with rage, arrived to 
forbid the bans. Where the honeymoon was passed 
tradition does not state. 

The tranquillity of matrimony failed to extin- 
guish Owenson' s theatric mania. He continued to 
act before provincial audiences, and became a fa- 
vourite. His appearance told strongly in his favour ; 
all accounts, traditional and documental, concur in 
assigning to Owenson a gallant, stalwart figure, a 
commanding aspect, Celtic features, with a gen- 



tlernanly and prepossessing deportment. The attack 
of the 'Theatrical Review 9 had stung Owenson to 
the quick, but it did not nerve him to renewed exer- 
tion and stronger ambition ; tragedy in general, and 
" Tamerlane" in particular, were abandoned as a bad 
job ; and the lighter walks of comedy, and Irish 
drama, were now trod, with considerable success, by 
Mr. Owenson. His commanding figure and deport- 
ment were points which, as already observed, told 
well in his favour. " He was celebrated as an Irish 
comedian and vocalist," observes an octogenarian 
actor, " he understood the ancient language of the 
country, and in stature looked a true descendant of 
the Milesian race of heroes."'* 

Dramatic singers were scarce moreover ; Incledon 
and Braham had not yet appeared before the public ; 
and the lessons which Owenson had some years pre- 
viously received from, Worgan and Arne, were now 
turned to account. " His singing the Irish songs," 
wrote one who knew Owenson intimately, " being mas- 
ter of the Irish language, as also a perfect musician, as 
to voice, had great effect with the admirers of our 
national melody. His Major O'Elaherty, was a 
great favourite ; but his prime character was Teague 
in the 'Committee, or the Faithful Irishman/ in 
which, wrapped in a blanket, and flourishing his 
great oaken cudgel, he sung an Irish planxty, perfect 
in language, style and action ; all which rendered his 
benefits very substantial ; Owenson sent me over 
this tune, and to it I wrote the Finale to the ' Poor 
Soldier/ "t 

Owenson' s great success in singing songs of this 
character, was doubtless attributable to the profound 

* " Fifty Years of an Actor's Life," by W. A. Donaldson, 1858 
Part I. 

f Recollections of John O'Keefe, vol. i. p. 158. 



acquaintance with the Irish tongue, which he neces- 
sarily formed during the long period of his sojourn 
in Connaught, where the vernacular language is 
spoken almost exclusively by the labouring classes. 
The first fruit of Robert Owenson's alliance with 
Jane Hill was the subject of these pages. The 
date of her birth has, for more than half a cen- 
tury, been a source of much literary controversy. 
The late John Wilson Croker instituted a formal 
commission, with a view to its discovery, but all to no 
effect. "The date of her birth" said the c Athenaeum' 
in recording her death " she would never tell, and 
the subject of the when and where provoked a 
long discussion on the part of that ancient Tory 
faction to which she was all her life so sharply op- 
posed." Again on Sept. 10, following, the same 
journal noticed "Lady Morgan's skill in baffling 
even the most curiously and courteously veiled ques- 
tions on the subject," and adds, "no subtlety of 
inquiry could entrap Lady Morgan into admission 
about her age."* 

The date, however, can now be fixed with tolerable 

* More than one amusing instance might be given to shew 
Lady Morgan's wish to clip at least twenty years off her actual 
age. In 1855, Mr. Fitzpatrick sent to Lady Morgan an old news- 
paper dated December J 807, containing an eminently creditable 
letter from her pen, believing that after the lapse of half a century, 
it would interest the veteran authoress to see it again. We trans- 
cribe an extract from her acknowledgment, because it ' exhibits 
the peculiarity alluded to, and, in the next place, records an 
early effort of her pen, little, if at all, known. 

" Lady Morgan presents Mr. Fitzpatrick her compliments, and 
best thanks for the enclosure of her early {very early !) scrap of 
authorship, written when she but " lisped in numbers." She has 
no recollection of the letter he has sent her, but she remembers 
writing something of the same kind on behalf of the little sweeps 
of Dublin, in her thirteenth year, which obtained notice from her 
friend 1 The Freeman.' " 



accuracy. On April 24th, 1845, her sister, Lady 
Clarke died, at the age of sixty. That she was the 
junior of Lady Morgan by ten years is well-known to 
her family. Lady Morgan must, therefore, have beeh 
born in 1775. Her birth occurred on shipboard, so 
that no country can claim the honour of Lady Mor- 
gan's nativity ; but as it took place when crossing 
the Irish Sea, she may fairly be called an Irish 
woman, even though her subsequent career had never 
been distinguished by those ennobling characteristics 
of nationality which have rendered the name of Lady 
Morgan so valued in Ireland. 

Owenson was proud of his little daughter, and 
resolved to celebrate her christening with becoming 
festivity. Ned Lysaght, the once famous extempore 
Irish poet, was invited to attend the baptismal cere- 
mony in the capacity of god-papa ; and Ned, with 
characteristic good nature, at once accepted the res- 
ponsibility. He and Owenson, as two very eminent 
boon companions, wits, poets, and singers of con- 
vivial songs, it may well be supposed that 
some rivalry existed between them ; but it is plea- 
sant to find that the old adage, "two of a trade 
never agree/' was not, in this instance, verified. 
Lysaght, for many years after continued to regard 
the tiny child with a fatherly feeling of affection and 
pride; and when, in 1809, death snatched him 
away, she felt with bitter sorrow, her doubly orphaned 

At what time the baptismal ceremony took place, 
it is not easy to determine. In the first edition of 
this work, we described it in immediate connection 
with the infancy of little Sydney. But an inferential 
conclusion inclines us to believe that Owenson de- 
layed the performance of the rite until the child had 
been sufficiently advanced in religious knowledge u to 



have the faith, and if need be, the repentance of the 
convert." This is the more likely, as Mrs. Owenson 
always made the Bible her sole guide and rule of 
faith ; and she knew that no passage existed in the 
Scripture to justify infant baptism, although eccle- 
siastical tradition — which Protestants reject — enforces 
its necessity. That the famous " Counsellor Ly- 
saght" stood sponsor for little Sydney is certain, 
but it was not until 1788 that Lysaght became a 
member of the Irish Bar. Nor was he living in 
Dublin for several years previously. Sir Jonah Bar- 
rington mentions in his Sketches (iii. 321,) that he 
and Lysaght were at the Temple together in 1785. 

Through the courtesy of the Rev. Dr. Tisdall, we 
have been enabled to search the parish registry of 
St. Andrew's Dublin/* but no record exists therein of 
the baptism of Sydney Owenson. The following entry, 
however, may be found under date of May 11th, 
1783 : "Robert Whitmore, son of Robert and Jane 
Owenson, baptised — John Hewitt, vicar." Sydney 
was the first, and for several years the only child. 
Robert came next; and in 1785, Olivia was born. 

Sydney Owenson had begun making verses before 
she had left the nursery. In a pontic address to her 
only sister Olivia, afterwards Lady Clarke, our 
authoress plainly states this fact : 

Have I from childhood then, been writing, 
And ere I well could write, inditing, 
In scribbling ever still delighting ; 

Since first the muse 
Did kindly string my infant lyre, 
And o'er my mind poetic fire 

As kind infuse ; 

At Sydney's premature development of bardic 

* In 1777, Owenson resided at 3, Crow Street, Dublin; in 
1794, at 60, Dame Street; in '1799, at 15, Trinity Street. 
These localities are all within the parish of St. Andrew. 



genius, Lysaght' s interest in his little god-daughter 
strengthened to intensity : and in the fulness of his 
delight the convivial councillor seized his pen and 
threw off the following characteristic fragment. — 

The muses met me once not very sober, 
But full of frolic at your merry christening ! 
And now, this twenty-third day of October, 
As they foretold, to your sweet lays I'm listening. 

They called you " Infant Muse," and said your lyre 
Should one day wake your nation's latent fire ; 
They ordered Genius, garlands to entwine 
For Sidney ; — Me, i'faith, they plied with wine." 

Lysaght was a perfect type of the Irish gentleman 
of the old school. Lavish of money, he found 
himself at the age of thirty -five, with little but his 
pen and his pedigree. Convivial, gay, of high and 
dauntless spirit, he held hair-triggers as often as 
hock-tumblers in his right hand, Fond of the plea- 
sures of the table, he had also a taste for the terrors 
of the field. Though sometimes eager to resent, he 
was perhaps more often impatient to forgive. As a 
second, especially in political quarrels, Lysaght was 
constantly m requisition. Perhaps the most remark- 
able case was that of the Eight Hon. George Ogle, 
who declared at a public dinner in Dublin, that 
" a papist would swallow a false oath as easily as he 
would a poached egg." Four shots having been in- 
terchanged without effect, Lysaght on behalf of the 
principal, who was a Catholic, compelled the Privy 
Councillor to write an apologetic explanation. 

The sectarian prejudices of those days seem to 
have sadly warped the minds of men, otherwise 
expansive and generous. It is hard to understand 
how the accomplished writer of "Banna's Banks," 
and " Molly Asthore," could give utterance to a 
sentiment so coarse and narrow-minded. 

Lysaght wrote a great number of stirring songs, 



racy of the soil. " Donnybrook Fair,"* " The Rakes 
of Mallow," and " We love the man who led the 
van of Irish volunteers," may be cited as examples. 

In politics Lysaght had unfortunately no fixed 
principle. A patriot to-day and a courtier to-mor- 
row, he would fling awkward squibs at the feet of 
royalty now, and the next minute hurl a disconcerting 
cracker into the ranks of the popular party. He 
ridiculed the opponents of the Union with his pen, 
and according to Sir Jonah Barrington, received 
cash in acknowledgment from Lord Castlereagh. 
Dr. Madden tells us that he was a sworn " united 
Irishman." Lysaght attempted to practice at the 

* Since the appearance of the first edition of this work, we 
received a letter from a member of the Royal Irish Academy, 
claiming for the late Mr. H. B. Code, proprietor of The Warder 
newspaper, the authorship of the well-known national song of 
" Donnybrook Fair." Our correspondent has always understood 
Mr. Code to be the writer, but never heard him absolutely avow 
the fact. As a specimen of Mr. Code's facility in versification, he 
quotes the following, which was thrown off in about a hundred 
seconds. On coming down to breakfast one morning, Mr. Code 
found on the floor a bracelet which a lady had dropped ; and he 
instantly sent it into her room with his compliments and im- 
promptu — 

Stray bracelet of the heedless fair, 

Why leave that beauteous arm bare ? 

Thou silly thing, were I but thee, 

I'd cling there to eternity. 

And through the veins round which I dwell 

Infuse my passion to her soul, 

And cling thereto with life and breath, 

Till hook and eye were loosed in death. 

Sir Jonah Barrington's " Personal Sketches," vol. ii. p. 231, 
was our authority for the statement that Lysaght wrote the song 
of " Donnybrook Fair," but Barrington is not infallible, for, he 
also attributes to Lysaght, (v. hi. p. 320). " Green were the fields 
where our forefathers dwelt, 0," whereas the real author was 
George Nugent Reynolds. Samuel Lover, in his " Lyrics of Ire- 
land," (139) has given "Donnybrook Fair," with Lysaght's name, 



English Bar, but after a short experience declared 
that he had not law enough for the King's Bench, 
and was not dull enough for the Court of Chancery, 
and that before he could succeed at the Old Bailey, 
he must shoot Garrow which would be extremely dis- 
agreeable to him. 

Eobert Owenson selected the name of Sydney for 
his little daughter in fond recollection of the benevo- 
lent rule of Sir Henry Sidney, who in his capacity of 
Lord Deputy, visited Connaught in 1575, and 
showed protection to many of the Irish exiles. 

That old Mr. Hill became, after a while, reconciled 
to the marriage of his daughter with Owenson, is 
evident, for in the year 1777 we find the latter pur- 
chasing a share in Crow Street Theatre, with a por- 
tion of his wife's dower, and becoming joint pro- 
prietor with Thomas Ryder.* Hitchcock, speaking 
of this remarkable performer, in 1794, observes that 
he was ever distinguished by the versatility as well 
as excellence of his genius, and that so far bac£ 
as 1770, Ryder might be deemed a theatrical Atlas, 
who at that time, and for many years after, sup- 
ported, almost unaided, the heavy burthen of the 
Irish drama. "It might be truly said," adds 
Hitchcock, " that for a period of twelve years he was 
almost every night before the public." Ryder 
was originally manager of Smock Alley Theatre, 

but evidently on the authority of Sir Jonah Barrington. The 
same remark applies to D. 0. Maddyn's observation in the 44 Reve- 
lations of Ireland," p. 12. 

* We gather this fact from a memoir of Lady Morgan, contri- 
buted to " The London and Dublin Magazine," for 1826. The 
details came from Lady Morgan herself, and the Editor's impres- 
sion is that they were thrown into literary shape by Sir Charles 
Morgan, who constantly wrote for that Magazine, and received as 
pay £10 per sheet. The article in question, mentions that "on 
Mr. Owenson's marriage with a respectable Englishwoman, he pur- 
chased a share in one of the Dublin theatres, and became joint 
proprietor with the celebrated Mr. Ryder." 



which opened under his auspices in September 1772. 
He was the first Patentee who admitted ladies into 
the pit — a privilege which had previously been 
denied.* It was not, however, until April, 1773, 
that the landlord, the Reverend Dr. AYilson of 
Trinity College, drew up a deed letting the theatre 
to Ryder for the term of his life at the annual rent 
of £365. In 1776, Ryder took a lease of Crow 
Street Theatre while retaining possession of Smock 
Alley House to prevent oppositipn.t 

In the Freeman's Journal of October 19th 1776, 
we have traced, after a long and laborious search, the 
first appearance of Owenson in Dublin. " On Monday 
next/' observes the advertisement, " at the The- 
atre Royal Crow Street, there will be presented a 
comedy called 'The West Indian/ — Major O'Fla- 
herty (with a song) Mr. Owenson from the The- 
atre Royal in Covent Garden, being his first ap- 
pearance in this kingdom." Two very acute dra- 
matic critics wrote in the F?*eeman's Journal at 
this period under the respective signatures of u A 
Theatrical Spy/' and « Dramatic Censor." The 
latter in an article dated October 22nd, 1776, has 
placed on record the following shrewd and interest- 
ing notice of Owensou's debut in Dublin. " The cha- 
racter of Major O'Flaherty was performed with great 
spirit and propriety by Mr. Owenson. His figure is 
perfectly well adapted, his brogue was characteristic, 
and not too vulgar; but his countenance did not appear 
old enough for a man who had seen thirty years hard 
service. The song he sang was taken from Mr. Mc 
Dermott's opera of c The Milesian/ and was received 
with great applause though rather abruptly intro- 
duced. This gentleman will forgive me, if I hint, 

* Hitchcock's " View of the Irish Stage," v. ii. p. 293— 
Dublin 17!)4. 

f Gilbert's " History of Dublin," v. ii. pp. 104-7. 



that although it is perfectly natural in a man when 
his mind is strongly agitated, to express its overflow- 
ings in its own native language, even when talking to 
people in an acquired one, yet his uttering phrases 
in Irish so very frequently, seemed rather a local 
compliment than a judicious use of them, and might 
by some be construed into a clap trap. Let him ask 
himself would he use so many if performing the same 
character in England? The answer will justify this 
remark."* The "Theatrical Critic" thought Owenson 
too young for the character of Major OTlaherty. 
A writer of vast dramatic experience, however, has 
said that "an old man acted well by a young one is 
truly entertaining, but performed by a real old man 
is lamentable, and not to be borne." f 

We have our suspicions as to whose pen threw off 
the flowing and acute theatrical criticisms in the ' Free- 
man's Journal/ eighty-five years ago, under the signa- 
tures of the "Dramatic Censor," and "Theatric 
Spy/" Moore, in the third chapter of his " Memoirs 
of R. B. Sheridan/' observes, in noticing* the events 
of the year 1775, that Sheridan wrote numerous 
" essays for the newspapers," and adds : " There are 
also among his manuscripts some commencements of 
periodical papers, under various names, ' The Detec- 
tor/ ' The Dramatic Censor, &c/ " Is it not likely 
that Sheridan may have thrown an occasional paper 
into the leading literary organ of his native city ? 
It is w r orthy of notice that Thomas Sheridan, his 
father, was performing on the Dublin boards in 

* Freeman's Journal, Dublin, October 19, 1776. 

f Tate Wilkinson's Memoirs, v. ii. p. 127. 

% Gilbert's " History of Dublin," p. 198, vol. ii. Old 
Sheridan was a tragedian of great eminence and prodigious 
solemnity. " I recollect him particularly," says Sir Jonah 
Barrington, " playing * Alexander the Great' and throwing the 




The parts which Owenson performed at Crow 
Street during the remainder of the season of 1776 
may be rapidly traced and followed. On Nov. 5th, 
we find him playing Lysimachus, in Lee's tragedy of 
" Alexander the Great." This play was produced at 
Crow Street, with a good deal of startling mechanical 
contrivance and effect, in order to eclipse Mossop's 
grand spectacle of " Coriolanus" at Smock Alley. 
Alexander's beautiful chariot was drawn from the ex- 
treme end of the stage by unarmed soldiery. " In a 
twinkling/' writes O'Keefe, "it disappeared, and every 
soldier was, at the instant, armed. Each man, hav- 
ing his particular duty previously assigned tor him, 
laid his hand on different parts of the chariot ; one 
took a wheel— -this was a shield — all in a moment 
wore shields ; the axle-tree was taken by another — it 
was a spear ; the body of the chariot flew to pieces, 
and the whole was converted into swords, javelins, 
lances, standards, &c. Each soldier, thus armed, 
arranged himself at the sides, and Alexander, stand- 
ing in the centre, began his speech." 

javelin at Clytus, whom happening to miss, he hit the cup-bearer 
then played by one of the hack performers, a Mr. Jemmy Fottrel. 
Jemmy very naturally supposed that he was hit designedly, and 
that it was some new light of the great Mr. Sheridan, to slay the 
cup-bearer in preference to his friend Clytus, which certainly 
would have been a less unjustifiable murder, and that he ought to 
tumble down, and make a painful end, according to dramatic 
custom time immemorial. Immediately, therefore, on being 
struck, Mr. James Fottrel, (who was the ugliest cup-bearer ever 
employed by any monarch) reeled, staggered, and fell, very natu- 
rally, considering it was his first death ; but being determined on 
this unexpected opportunity to make an impression upon the 
audience, when he found himself stretched on the boards at full 
length, he began to roll about, kick, and flap the stage with his 
hands most immoderately, and at length expired, with a groan so 
long and so loud, that it paralysed even the people in the galleries, 
whilst the ladies, believing that he was really killed, cried aloud. 
Though then very young, 1 was myself so terrified that 1 shall 
never forget it." 



The part of Lysiinachus was not Owenson's forte. 
He appeared to better advantage in such light musi- 
cal pieces as BickerstafFs "Maid of the Mill;" 
and on November 14th 1776, may be found a favour- 
able notice from the "Dramatic Censor," of Owen- 
son's acting of Mervyn in that piece. 

Thomas Moore tells us that in consequence of the 
bad acting of Lee as Sir Lucius OTrigger, the 
famous comedy of "The Rivals" failed on its first 
representation in 1775."* In Ireland the play became 
intensely popular, and it is no extravagant flight of 
imagination to conjecture that Owenson' s personation 
of the belligerent Irish Baronet contributed in no 
small degree to the success of the piece. On No- 
vember 21st, 1776, "The Rivals" is announced for 
representation at Crow Street Theatre, with the part 
of Sir Lucius OTrigger by Mr. Owenson. This 
character was a decided hit of Owenson's. Lady 
Morgan, in a conversation with Mr. Cole, formerly 
lessee of the Theatre Royal, Dublin, particularly 
alluded to her father's happy execution of the part of 
Sir Lucius O'Trigger.t "The Rivals" had a run of 
many nights at Crow Street. No new character is 
undertaken by Owenson until December 28, 1776, 
when he appeared as Marciar in Lee's " Theodosius, 
or the Force of Love." 

His next part is Mr. Heapy in "The Siege of 
Harlech," January 20th, 1777 ; Foigard in "The 
Beaux Strategem," January 21st; The Irishman 
in " The Double Valet," January 28th ; Phocian in 
"The Grecian Daughter," February 17th; Vernon 
in "Henry IV," February 25th; Conolly in "The 
School for Wives," February 28th; Merlin in 
"Cymon," March 11th; and "on the loth of that 

* Memoirs of R. B. Sheridan, chap. iii. p. 65. 
t Letter from J. W. Cole, Esq., Nov. ICth, 1859. 

c 2 



month by command of his Excellency John, Earl 
of Buckingham, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, was 
produced "the most tragical tragedy that ever was 
tragedized by any company of tragedians, called 
Chrononhotonthologos — li^rfom Funidos, Mr. Ry- 
der ; King of the Fiddlers, Mr. O'Keefe ; Cupid, 
Mr. Owenson." 

On March 31st, 1777, was performed the prelude 
of "New Brooms." — Phelim OTlaherty, "with a 
song in character," Mr. Owenson ; after which the 
Pantomime of " Harlequin in the Moon," Wizard, Mr. 
Owenson. On April 1st he appeared as Tom Tug, 
the "Waterman, in Dibdin's musical entertainment 
of that name ; and on April the 3rd (a command 
night) as Pan in O'Hara's "Midas," and Octavio in 
"The Governess." A letter from Kane O'Hara, 
recently published by Mr. Gilbert particularly refers 
to this evening. The letter bears date 4th April 
1777, and is addressed to the musical manager at 
Crow Street. This was the .first representation of 
H Midas," on the Dublin Boards, and O'Hara seems 
to have been exceedingly apprehensive lest the per- 
formers should " alter, or add, or omit any word 
or note in air or recitative." O'Hara adds, "I 
purpose to be present at every representation, ac- 
companied by some friends, who will take their cue 
of clapping or hissing from me ; and you may assure 
the compauy, that any deviation on their part will 
be reprimanded in the most marked mode of dis- 
approbation." O'Hara, in this letter, assigned to 
Owenson the part of Pan with various new songs, 
including f< Pox on your pother about this or that," 
It is impossible to regard this act as otherwise than 
complimentary to Owenson. Pan would seem to 
have been O'Hara' s favourite part, for, as we are 



assured, it was reserved by the author for himself 
on the first representation of " Midas."* 

In the part of Pan, Owenson made no ephemeral 
hit, but acquired a permanent and substantial fame. 
A writer in 1820 informs us that " Owenson was 
the favourite Pan of the Irish stage, and performed 
it with great applause so late as l807.t 

Owenson's new characters from the fourth to the 
twelfth of April were True Blue in "The Press 
Gang, or, the Parting Lovers Captain O'Cutter 
in Colman's Comedy of " The Jealous Wife Eustace 
in "Love in a Village;" The Shepherd, in "Maid 
of the Oaks ;" and llemenes in " Artaxerxes." On 
the 13th, " The Shamrock, or, St. Patrick's Day," was 
produced, " with a grand pageant and procession of 
kings of Leinster, Munster, and Connaught; Strong- 
bow, de Courcy, Sitric the Dane, eacli attended with 
their respective arms, ensignia, and appendages; 
Hibernia in a triumphal car, Druids, Bards, Games, 
Banshees, Leprachauns, Hibernians in their original 
state; Peace, Fame, Hospitality, Industry, &c. To 
conclude with a song by Carolan the ancient Irish 
Bard (Mr. Owenson), and grand chorus by all the 

Dorothy Bland, alias, Francis, a young and 
pretty Waterford girl, widely known by her sub- 
sequently assumed name of Mrs. Jordan, and 
her connection with an occupant of the British 
throne, made her debut at Crow Street Theatre during 
the year 1777, as Phoebe in "As you like it," 
Owenson acting the part of Oliver in the same piece. 
Miss Bland's pleasant artlessness and sportive sim- 
plicity soon gained for her many admirers. " Joyous, 

* The Private Theatre of Kilkenny and other private theatres 
in Ireland.—" Fifty copies only printed," 1825, p. 2. 

t Bemarks prefixed to ' Midas' in Cumberland's British Theatre. 


animated, and droll " writes Sir Jonah Barrington, 
" her laugh arose from her heart, her tear started inge- 
nuously from her feeling." '-Her face, her tone, 
her manner," says Hazlitt, "were irresistible; her 
smile had the effect of sunshine, and her laugh did 
one good to hear it." Nature was her sole instruct- 
ress. "Had I studied my positions, weighed my 
words, and measured my sentences," said Mrs. Jor- 
dan herself, u I should have been artificial, and they 
might have hissed me; so when I got the words 
by heart, I told Nature I was then at her service 
to do whatever she thought proper with my feet, 
legs, hands, arms, and features, to her I left the 
whole matter. I became her puppet, and never 
. interfered further myself in the business. I heard 
the audience laugh at me, and 1 laughed at myself; 
they laughed again, so did I." 

Mr. "Doyne, a young military officer with plain 
features, and small means, fell desperately in love 
with Phoebe, and pursued her everywhere with de- 
clarations of the passion which almost broke his 
heart. He proposed to make Dorothea Francis his 
wife; but Owenson, who took a strong interest in 
the gradually developing dramatic genius of this 
young and interesting little gill, urged her mother 
to reject Lieutenant Dovne's addresses ;"* advice which 
it seems was thankfully received and promptly acted 
on.f Opinions will differ as to whether Owenson 
was right or wrong in this proceeding. As the wife 
of the plain and poor Lieutenant, Dorothea Erancis 
might have been happier than the separated com- 
panion of a royal personage with a retiring allowance 
of £4,400 a year. Overwhelmed by afflictions, and 
in a state of extreme mental misery, she who had 

, * Personal Sketches, by Sir Jonah Earrington, v. ii. p. 219. 
f Boaden's " Memoirs of Mrs. Jordan," vol. i., p. 14. 



once rioted in her fine animal spirits, died Julv 3rd, 
. 1816. 

But to resume our examination of the parts which 
Owenson played daring his first season on the Dub- 
lin boards. On April 19, 1777, he appears as 
Mercury in O'Hara's burletta of "The Golden Pip- 
pin;" on May 5th (a command night) as Conoliy 
in "The School for Wives;" and on the 3rd as 
Harman in "Lionel and Clarissa." Owenson' s benefit 
took place a few evenings subsequently, on which 
occasion was produced "a Prelude, with a new 
prologue in the character of an Irishman," and the 
comedy of "The Twin Rivals, Teague (with songs) 
Mr. Owenson. Between the play and farce," con- 
tinues the original advertisement "an occasional 
Musical Medley Epilogue (w r ritten by the author of 
' Tristram Shandy ') will be sung by Mr. Owenson, 
of whom tickets may be procured at No. 3, Crow 

On the 8th May, 1777, the Viceroy gave another 
" command night," when Reid's farce of " The 
Registry Office," was performed with applause by 
Owenson and Ryder. But Owenson's great hit of 
( the season was Phelim 0' Flanagan in the Prelude, 
"in which," says the advertisement on May 9th, 
1777, "will be introduced some favourite Italian 
and Irish songs, particularly Oarolan's ' Receipt for 
Drinking' in Irish, and 'Pie Raca na Ruarka/ in 
English and Irish, the Irish by Carolan, the trans- 
lation by Dean Swift." 

" O'Ruarc's noble feast will ne'er be forgot, 

By those who were there, and by those who were not." 

This performance became infinitely popular ; and 
met with endless encores. 

Cumberland's comic opera of "The Summer's 



Tale" was brought forward on May 10th, Owenson 
acting the part of Frederick. Three evenings later 
we find " the Dragon of Wantley " announced, with 
the part of the Dragon, of course, by Owenson. 
This performance had a run until the 24th when 
Owenson was again called upon to display his ope- 
ratic powers in the pleasant burletta of "The Gover- 
ness " The dresses entirely new," says the adver- 
tisement, " to conclude with a grand masquerade, illu- 
minated by seven hundred lamps, and a Cotillion dance 
by Characters." A new burlesque satire, called "The 
Rehearsal, or a Lick at the Modern Drama," in which 
Owenson was to take a prominent part, had long been 
advertised for the 26th May. The author, moreover, 
circulated an appeal to the public, which, as fur- 
nishing an illustration of some extinct theatrical 
customs, we subjoin: "The author of the new re- 
hearsal, relying on the candour of the public, on 
which alone he founds his hope of success, begs 
leave to request their patronage for his comedy. And 
as it is quite unusual for an author to have the 
profit of the first representation of a new piece, he 
assures them this innovation in his favour arises 
entirely from the condescension of Mr. Ryder, who, , 
reflecting that the benefits and other course of 
business prevented the appearance of this comedy 
till so late in the season, with a generosity hitherto 
unparalleled by any manager of his own nation, and 
unsolicited, offered to give the first night to the 
author; for which he thinks himself bound, in 
justice and gratitude to return his thanks in the 
most public manner. In regard to the merits of the 
piece, the author cannot presume to decide; but 
respectfully leaves the determination to the judicious 
public, fully satisfied that it shall stand or fall by 
their suffrages. He will only add that if satire, free 



from personality, an attempt to restore humour to 
modern comedy, a great variety of character, and 
a diligent attention to nature can please, he is not 
without hope of obtaining the approbation of the 
audience, the ultimate end of his, wishes, and the 
best reward of his endeavours." 

The Viceroy would seem to have been pleased with 
the acting of Owenson and his colleagues, for on 
June 3rd, we find the announcement of another per- 
formance by command. Owenson, Ryder, and Miss 
Francis, played on this occasion in "As you like it."" 
The tragedy of " Zenobia," and Milton's Masque of 
" Comus," were, a few evenings later produced, 
Owenson playing Zopoirn in the first piece, and a 
Bacchanal in the other. The benefit of his musical 
preceptor, Dr. Arne, was announced on 21st June, 
when Owenson appeared as Mervin in " The Maid of 
the Mill/' and Leander in the " Padlock." 

" When the audiences of Smock Alley were begin- 
ning to flag/' writes Sir Jonah Barrington, " Old 
Sparkes told Ryder, if he would bring out the after- 
piece of 'The Padlock/ and permit him to manage 
it, he would ensure him a succession of good nights. 
Ryder gave him his way, and the bills announced a- 
first appearance in the part of Leonora : the debutante 
was reported to be a Spanish lady. The public 
curiosity was excited, and youth, beauty, and tremu- 
lous modesty were all anticipated ; the house over- 
flowed; impatience was unbounded ; the play ended 
in confusion, and the overture of ' The Padlock/ 
was received with rapture. Leonora at length 
appeared ; the clapping was like thunder, to give 
courage to the debutante, who had a handsome face, 
and was very beautifully dressed as a Spanish donna, 
which it was supposed she really was. Her gigantic 
size, it is true, rather astonished the audience. How- 



ever, they willingly took for granted that the Spa- 
niards were an immense people, and it was observed 
that England must have had a great escape of the 
Spanish Armada, if the men were proportionally 
gigantic to the ladies. Her voice too was rather of 
the hoarsest, but that was accounted for by the 
sudden change of climate: at last, Leonora began her 
song of ' Sweet Robin' — 

Say, little foolish fluttering thing, 
Whither, ah ! whither would you wing ? 

and at the same moment Leonora's mask falling off, 
old Sparkes stood confessed, with an immense 
gander which he brought from under his cloak, and 
which he had trained to stand on his hand and 
screech to his voice, and in chorus with himself. The 
whim took : the roar of laughter was quite inconceiv- 
able : he had also got Mungo played by & real black : 
and the whole was so extravagantly ludicrous, and so 
entirely to the taste of the Irish galleries at that time, 
that his c Sweet Robin' was encored, and the fre- 
quent repetition of the piece replenished poor Ryder's 
treasury for the residue of the season." 

The galleries, or rather the Gods who occupied 
them, do not seem to have contented themselves in 
those days, by merely hissing whenever any circum- 
stance occurred below to cross their divine will. An 
advertisement from Ryder, dated July 1st, 1777, 
offers a " reward of ten guineas for the person who 
flung the quart bottle from the upper gallery upon 
the stage." There were no police in those days to 
keep order, and no surveillance of any description 
existed in the house, with the exception of two sol- 
diers with fixed bayonets, who always " stood 
like statues on each side of the stage." The or- 
chestra was often visited with vengeance from on 



high ; and Hitchcock assures us that impelled by the 
motives of self-preservation, the musicians were not 
unfrequently obliged to play behind the scenes. 

We have referred to Ryder's falling fortunes. 
Being at last unable to discharge an arrear of rent 
which had accumulated on Smock Alley Theatre, he 
was obliged to surrender the House to Richard Daly, 
who in October, 1781, opened it with the engage- 
ment of John Philip Kemble at £5 per week. 
Ryder continued patentee and manager of Crow 
Street ; but the formidable rivalry of Smock Alley soon 
reduced him to great embarrassment. On one occa- 
sion at Crow Street, when the play was by com- 
mand of the Lord-Lieutenant, the actors came for- 
ward and announced that the company, having been 
for some time unpaid, would not perform. The man- 
ager, then confined to his room from severe illness, 
advertised that he would appear on the stage and state 
his case to the public. When Ryder came forward, 
his appearance was so ghastly that the audience called 
the prompter to bring him a chair, seated on which 
he read various documents to show that the most 
clamorous performers were those who in reality had 
the least cause of complaint. Robert Owenson made 
an effort to answer Ryder, but the audience would 
not listen to him.* In 1782 Ryder became bank- 

Eor several years' previous, the actors, in truth, had 
been most irregularly paid, and many strange expe- 
dients are recorded to which they resorted in order to 
compel the manager to pay up arrears. John O'Keefe 
informs us that one night when the then lessee as 
King Lear was supported in the arms of an actor who 
played Kent, the latter in a w r hisper said, " If you 

* Gilbert's " History of Dublin," v. ii. p. 204. 



don't give me your honour, sir, that you'll pay me 
this night, FU let you drop about the boards/' The 
monarch alarmed, said, " Don'fc talk to me now." " I 
will/' said Kent, " I'll let you drop." The promise 
was at length given, and Kent got his money.* Tate 
Wilkinson, speaking of Mossop, the manager to whom 
O'Keefe alludes, says that whenever he got a full 
house, instead of paying his performers, he flew to a 
gambling house, " and always returned home with, an 
aching head and heart ; but his guineas, with debts 
of honour, were always left behind." Wilkinson 
describes Mrs. Brandon, the acting star, flinging her- 
self at the pompous manager's feet, and imploring, for 
God's sake to give her something, as she was actu- 
ally starving. Mossop. — " Woman, you have £5 per 
week." Mrs. Brandon. — "I have been in Dublin 
six months, and in all that time have only received 
£6." Mossop. — " Woman, begone! If you dare 
ask me for money again, I will forfeit you £10." t 
Owenson, it will be remembered, had formed a part- 
nership with Ryder. It is not very likely that this 
connection had the effect of increasing the pecuninary 
means of our quondam land-steward, or that old Mr. 
Hill rejoiced in it as an eligible investment. Owenson 
now tried his fortune at commercial speculations, and 
became a wine merchant^ but he soon got tired of 
this plodding craft, and abandoned sherry for Sheri- 
dan, and rum for Eowe. Mr. Donaldson, in his 
recently published, "Fifty years of an Actor's Life," 
tells us that " Owenson on the occasion of a benefit, 
selected the ' Beggar's Opera,' and personated Polly 
Peachum. Capt. Macheath, was represented by a lady 

* Recollections of John O'Keefe, v. i. p. 158. 
f Autobiography of Tate Wilkinson, Dublin, 1791, v. ii. p. 

{ London and Dublin Magazine, for January 1826. 



of very short stature, and as Owenson was six feet 
one, ' he looked a mile in length, and she like a mile- 
stone/ In the business of the piece, when the Captain 
kisses his darling Polly, it was obliged to be reversed. 
Instead of the Captain saluting her, Owenson as 
Miss Peachum, lifted up the bold outlaw, and gave 
such a smack as made the theatre ring again with 
laughter and applause." 

Mr. Donaldson seems to think that this trans- 
position of the sexes was a freak or whimsey 
adopted by Owenson in the exuberance of a benefit 
night. The idea was not Owenson' s nor the play 
Gay's properly so called. In the " Memoirs of John 
Banister," we are told that the paramount whim and 
captivating absurdity of the dramatic season of 1781, 
was the " Beggar's Opera Travestie," with all the 
characters metamorphosed. This folly was intro- 
duced by a prelude which tendered a grave apology 
to the audience for a delay in beginning the perform- 
ance as Polly was only half shaved. The entire 
proceeding was marked by a coarseness which, at the 
present day, would not be tolerated for a moment. 
We learn, for example, that a point which never 
failed to tell, was when Mrs. Peachum swinging too 
heedlessly on her chair, exhibited a pair of black 
plush breeches under her petticoats. That the entire 
play was a monstrous burlesque on Gay's opera is 
proved by the mere fact of assigning to a man of 
Owenson' s immense muscular frame, the part of 
Polly who, as a gentle, confiding, and affectionate 
girl, in the midst of a crew of dissolute ruffians, was 
obviously intended by Gay to enlist the sympathies 
and interest of the audience. Owenson's dress in 
the character of Polly, was a tightly laced dress of 
muslin, with a capacious hoop. The depth of his 
Caliban roar when Peachum pinches his daughter to 



make her confess, was hardly less ludicrous in its 
effect than when singing, " Fondly let me loll," he 
hardly knew on what part of Captain Macheath's di- 
minutive person to accommodate himself. In 1793, 
as we are reminded by Michael Kelly in his " Kemi- 
niscences/' the Irish Government prohibited the 
Beggar's Opera from being acted. 

In a little poem entitled " Betrospection," printed 
sixty years ago, Miss Owenson lias furnished us with 
a glimpse of that home wherein her infant years were 
passed. Owenson's was a happy circle until chilled by 
death and poverty. 

Oft does ray mem'ry sketch the social group, 
At closing eve, that circled round the fire ; 

Sweet hour that fondly knits each human tie, 
Unites the children, mother, friend, and sire ! 

Full oft the legendary tale went round, 
Historic truth, or Car'lan's heart-felt song ; 

For though but little understood, I ween 
"We lov'd the music of our native tongue ! 

And oft went round the puzzling, forfeit game, 
Play'd with nice art, and many a sportive jest; 

Repeated oft — yet sure to win a laugh, 

For those we longest know, we lov'd the best ! 

Dear happy group, and e'en as happy good, 
While guileless spirits from each other torn ! 

Why has the world unclasp'd thy social bond, 

And left my heart its fond hope's wreck to mourn > 

Thus calmly flows some pure, expansive stream, 

Pellucid, clear, while o'er its surface plays 
The soften'd shade of each o'er-drooping plant, 

The moon's pale beam, or sun's meridian rays ! 

But lo ! should earth's convulsive struggles throw 
Th' impending rock in scattered masses o'er, 

'Tis forced to disunite in sep'rate streams, 

Dwindles to viewless rills, and 's seen no more ! 



About the year 1782, Owenson was engaged by 
Daly, under whose direction he continued to perforin 
until 1785, when they quarrelled and separated. It 
would be tedious to trace Owenson through every 
part during this interval. In the year 1784, we find 
him at Smock Alley Theatre, performing such charac- 
ters as Murtagh Mullowney, in a then popular 
pantomimic entertainment; Cacafogo, in " Rule 
a Wife, and have a Wife" and the Undertaker, 
in O'Keefe's opera of " The Dead Alive." Daly 
and Ryder, by both acting on the same boards, at 
this period, and thus consolidating their strength, 
rendered Smock Alley a place of great fame and 

Richard Daly was a Galway gentleman of good 
family. He received his education in Trinity College, 
Dublin, and with a view to the Bar became a Tem- 
plar. u He had the greatest predilection for single 
combat," says Barrington, "of any person I ever 
recollect. He had fought sixteen duels in the space 
of two years — three with swords, and thirteen with 
pistols." Having challenged Sir Jonah Barrington 
to deadly combat, Daly appeared on the ground 
dressed in a pea green coat, a large tucker with a 
diamond brooch, a three cocked hat with a gold 
button-loop and tassels, silk stockings, and a couteau 
de chasse dangling from his thigh. 

Ryder, originally a printer, survived until 1791, 
when we find his death announced with great sorrow 
by the "Dublin Chronicle." This event took place 
at Sandymount, near Dublin, on November 26th. 
That Ryder's brilliant theatric reputation was not 
merely local is obvious from the cluster of compli- 
mentary paragraphs which appeared in the English 
Press. " No man," observes the c Gentleman's Ma- 
gazine ' of the day, " no man understood human 


nature better : this was his cue in the delineation of 
human character. More versatility of genius seldom 
fell to any man. He could sustain with credit every 
situation of the drama. Whether the strings of the 
heart were by sympathy to flush the face with plea- 
sure, or to contort with grief — whether the frank 
lover, or the artful hypocrite was to appear, whether 
the soul was to melt into pathos, or to kindle in 
hilarity, he was all in all." Ryder is buried in the 
churchyard of Drumcondra, within a stone's throw of 
the old school-house in which Sydney Owenson was 
educated. A large concourse of persons accom- 
panied his remains to the grave. 

The site of the once famous Smock Alley Theatre, 
is now occupied by the Roman Catholic Church of 
SS. Michael and John. Most of the stones used in 
the latter erection were those of the old theatre. 
The altar of expiation stands on the site of that 
stage which so often exhibited inflammatory scenes of 
licentiousness, and the pit of the theatre is now a 
gloomy vault filled with mouldering dead ! 




Owenson on the staff of Mrs. Billington's admirers. — Her history. 
— Smock Alley Theatre. — Owenson a Manager. — " The Musick 
Hall in Fishamble Street." — Reconciliation with Daly. — Birth 
of Olivia Owenson. — Cumberland and his Major O'Flaherty. — 
Owenson's patronage of Dermody. — His History. — Sydney 
Owenson alleged to have been on the stage. — Sent to School. 
— Death of Mrs. Owenson. — Sydney's Lines to her mother's 
memory. — A Model Widower. — Owenson threatens to throw 
an arm full of Ensigns out of window. — Friar Tuck, Counsellor 
Flummery, Sergeant Jack, and Captain O'Cutter. — George 
Colman. — The Sham Squire. — Owenson hires the Derry play- 
house. — Peep o' Day Boys. — Connaught. — The Duke of Wel- 
lington flogged. — Samuel Whyte. — A Cork audience. — Letter 
from Miss Owenson to her father. — A sudden death. 

We have said that Owenson, after his theatrical 
losses at Smock Alley, continued but for a short time 
only to devote his thought and time to the mercantile 
pursuits in which he had been urged by his friends 
to embark. The same stage-struck restlessness that 
had characterised his stewardship at Castle Margaret 
again distracted Owenson's mind, and rendered him 
utterly unfit for business. It may well be imagined 
that this theatrical passion was not weakened by an 
imprudent connection which he had formed with an 
actress of great beauty and celebrity, who had just 
made her debut upon the Dublin boards.* 

* In the sketch of Lady Morgan (attributed to Sir Charles) 
and published in the 'London ana Dublin Magazine' for 182 G, 




The name of the lady was not mentioned in the 
first edition of this work, but a leading literary 
organ/* having, in a kind critical notice of it, ex- 
pressed some curiosity on the subject, I may ob- 
serve, on the authority of J. W. Cole, Esq., formerly 
lessee of the Theatre Royal, Dublin, that " the ac- 
tress of celebrity 93 was no other than Mrs. Elizabeth 
Billington, nee Weichsell-— a fact which my obliging 
informant heard from Lady Morgan herself. At an 
early age, she had become the pupil, and soon after 
the wife of a composer and performer on the double 
bass, named Billington, whom she accompanied to 
Dublin where her debut was made, says the Thespian 
Dictionary, "in the opera of 'Orpheus and Euri- 

This, however, was not Mrs. Billington' s first ap- 
pearance. By referring to the papers of the day, it 
may be found that on Eebruary 13th, 1784, she sung 
a By particular desire, and for that night only, the 
song of ' Sweet Echo/ accompanied on the violin by 
Master Weichsell, conductor of the band/'' On 
March 4th, 1784, "His Majesty's Servants " per- 
formed at Smock Alley " Orpheus and Euridice, in 
imitation of the ancient Greek Theatrical Eeasts — 
The Shade of a Departed Hero — Mr. Owenson ; 
Euridice — Mrs. Billington, her third appearance 
iu this kingdom/' 

"The Shade of a Departed Hero/' would seem to 
have made a very prompt and fatal impression upon 
the heart and principles of Mrs. Billington. Ere 
the newly married couple had been three weeks in 
Dublin, circumstances transpired which led to a 
complete rupture between them. In "Eaulkner's 

Owenson's " imprudent connection with a once beautiful and 
celebrated actress," is incidentally alluded to. 
* " Athenaeum," September 10 1859. 



Dublin Journal" of March 9th, 1784, we read the 
following manifesto : 

" A Caution to the Public. — Notice is hereby given 
to all persons not to credit or trust Elizabeth Bil- 
lington (formerly Weichsell) the wife of me, James 
Billington, as I am determined not to pay any debts 
she may contract on any account whatever ; witness 
my hand, Dublin, March 4th, 1784, — James Bil- 

Immediately after, the names of Owenson and 
Mrs. Billington disappear from the theatrical an- 
'nouncements of Dublin, and for many months are 
not again recognized. 

The Dublin people have always enjoyed much 
reputation as theatrical judges ; and managers gene- 
rally consider that any performer who becomes a 
favourite in Ireland, may be safely engaged for the 
amusement of a London audience. The musical 
proficiency of Mrs. Billington had been at once 
recognized with enthusiasm. She proceeded to 
Coven t Garden Theatre, and executed her part with 
such unparalleled success, that the Patentee offered 
her an engagement at the salary of £1,000, and 
a benefit, for the remainder of the season. Prom 
this period until 1793, no manager ever dreamt 
of inviting the public to any musical entertainment 
without previously securing the services of Mrs. 
Billington. In the last named year she visited 
Italy, and astounded and fascinated even the Italians. 
Bianchi expressly composed for her his celebrated 
opera " Inez de Castro." Her success was startling. 
Imitated with industry by minor vocalists, and 
envied with malignity by others, Mrs. Billington 
was worshipped with enthusiasm by many, and ad- 
mired by all. In the midst of this joyous intoxi* 

D Z 



cation, her husband, to whom she had been par- 
tially reconciled, dropped dead. Mrs. Billing-ton 
left Naples and repaired to Rome,* and in 1799 
entered the hymeneal pale a second time by her 
marriage with M. Felisent. Her matchless powers 
were now in their meridian. She returned to Lon- 
don, astonished the entire musical world, appeared 
before the Royal family, and continued to reign 
supreme and alone until her retirement in 1809. 
Eelisent, however, squandered all his wife's earnings, 
and treated her with such brutality, that she died 
from the effects of a blow which he gave her. 
Owenson preceded her by a short time to the 
tomb. Michael Kelly in his u Reminiscences" speaks 
of Mrs. Billington as "an angel in beauty, and the 
St. Cecilia of Song." 

In 1785 Owenson quarrelled with Richard Daly,f 
the high-flying lessee of the Theatre Ptoyal, Dublin. 
Hard words w r ere interchanged, and Owenson, full 
of revengeful pique, vowed that he would ruin Daly 
by an opposition house. The Music Hall in Fish- 
amble Street happened to be in the market.J 
Owenson applied for a license to the Right Hon. 
James Horan, Lord Mayor of Dublin, who unhesi- 
tatingly granted the requisite warrant ; and Fish- 
amble Street Theatre was accordingly opened. It 

* The following curious paragraph in 1 Faulkner's Dublin Jour- 
nal/ September 18, 1794, proves that the Episcopal Bench of 
that day and Mrs. Biliington's moral character were not sans 
reprocke. u The widow Billington is returning to England in the 
suite of a travelling Bishop ; she is said to have laid aside her 
weeds in compliment to this prelate's refined taste, who likes 
nothing that smacks of sackcloth and ashes." 

f Thespian Dictionary, 1805. 

% In 'Faulkner's Journal' of April 27, 1784, "those great 
concerns in Fishamble Street, called the Musick Hall, part of 
the estate of R. Byrne, Esq.," are advertised. 



had even then passed through many vicissitudes. 
In 1741 Handel delighted the Dublin people within 
the walls of "the new Musick Hall/' and Mas- 
querades, Dr. Arne's vocalists, Eoman Catholic meet- 
ings, Eidotto balls, Irish State lotteries, Conjuror's 
feats, arid Walker's Lectures on Pronunciation had 
contributed until 1785 to render Fishamble Street 
a centre of attraction. Owenson went to some ex- 
pense 'in preparing "new scenery, dresses, and - 
decorations:"" but his reign as manager lasted for 
merely one season. Daly, whose exclusive patent 
was then pending, made ample advances to a re- 
conciliation with Owenson, and apprehensive lest 
he should make interest against the coveted licence, 
Daly offered him a re-engagement on advantageous 
terms, with the situation of acting manager.* The 
proposal was accepted, and as Owenson had now 
become an established favourite, the lessee had no 
cause to repent his liberality. 

During Owenson's managerial reign in Pishamble 
Street, his daughter, Olivia, subsequently Lady Clarke, 
made her appearance— but not upon the stage She 
was therefore Lady Morgan's junior by ten years. A 
son who died young had been previously born. To 
these companions of her early days Sydney Owenson 
alludes in a juvenile poem printed sixty years ago. 

Hungry critics will not fail to seize eagerly 
on " the oaten cake or new-laid egg " but it must 
be remembered, in extenuation, that the authoress 
was yet in her teens, and that the beauties of her 
youthful essay more than counterbalance its defects. 

I sought the hawthorn tree, beneath whose shade, 

Full oft I pass'd ray truant hours gay, 
The spot where once it bloom'd I quickly found, 

The tree itself had droop'd into decay ! 

* Thespian Dictionary, 1805. 



I sought the cot, near my parental home, 
Where oft I stole the warlock tale to hear, 

To feast on oaten cake or new laid egg, 

I found the place;— alas ! no cot was there; 

And you, ye treasur'd objects of my heart ; 

Dear, lov'd companions of my early days, 
With whom I ran my life's first frolic course, 

Mingled my smiles, and sung my untaught lays ! 

Oft on a stream that wound its trickling way, 

I well remember, near our lov'd abode, 
We venturous launch'd our barks of paper built, 

Freighted with currants red, (delicious load.) 

And as (true emblem of our careless days, 
Gliding life's stream) we eager bent our eyes, 

On passing ship, for theirs who swiftest sail'd, 
Claim'd both the fleet aiid fruit, a glorious prize ! 

Full various were our sports, yet not in sports 

Alone, pass'd on the tenor of our days ; 
To romps succeeded oft th' instructive page, 

And even wisdom mingled with our plays ! 

Owenson's popularity daily strengthened. He 
pourtrayed with credit a number of new characters, 
including that of Corporal Casey ; but Sir Lucius 
0' Trigger and Major 0' Flaherty seem to have been 
his most successful conceptions. John O'Keefe has 
recorded a very favourable impression of Owenson 
in the latter part: "His unrivalled representation 
of Irish character/' observes a newspaper w T riter in 
1812/* " still lives in the memory of many. When 
Mr. Cumberland saw r him in his own Major O'Fla- 
herty, he said ' he had beyond any other person 
realized his idea of a fine Irish gentleman/ " Another 
source has it that Cumberland " was in ecstacies 
at Owenson's acting; and when at length, the cur- 
tain fell, he bemoaned, almost with tears, that he 

* < Freeman's Journal/ May 28th, 1812. 



had not given the Major more to do and say." 
Donaldson, speaking truthfully, but more tranquilly, 
of Owenson's " Major 0' Flaherty " says that it was 
" a rich specimen of the Irish officer of the old 
school — witty, bold, and chivalrous."* "The West 
Indian" became an immense favourite in Dublin. 
"The public was charmed with a piece," observes 
a Dublin writer in 1794, "which, with uncommon 
merit, presented so amiable a portrait of an Irish 
gentleman, and in Major OTlaherty, united the 
brave veteran soldier, with the man of feeling, whose 
heart was replete with the noblest impulses of hu- 
manity "t 

But perhaps that which reflects the highest honour 
on the memory of Robert Owenson, is the generous 
and uncalculating protection and patronage which he 
afforded the unfortunate young poet, Dermody, the 
Chatterton of Ireland. An account of this more than 
kind conduct on the part of Owenson runs, strag- 
glingly, through a memoir of Dermody, in two vo- 
lumes, written by the late James Grant Raymond in 
1806. This somewhat diffuse narrative, we shall 
endeavour, in justice to Owenson' s memory, to con- 

" While Dermody was thus employed in the 
painting-room, as superintendent of the glue, oil, and 
colour-pots," writes his biographer, " Mr. Cherry 
with great rapture brought one morning into the green- 
room a poem written, as he said, by a most surpris- 
ing boy then in the house. The subject of it was 
highly entertaining to the performers, being a sarcas- 
tic comparison between Mr. Daly, patentee of the 
Theatre Royal, and Mr. Astley, manager of the Eques- 
trian theatre. • The description which Mr. Cherry 

* Donaldson's " Fifty Years of an Actor's Life." Part I. 
t Hitchcock's "View of the Irish Stage," v. ii p. 186. 



gave of the boy, together with the merit of the com- 
position, raised among the performers the greatest 
curiosity to see him ; and, led on by Cherry, they 
rushed from the green-room to the place where the 
painter and his w r onderful attendant were at work. If 
their astonishment was excited on hearing the poem 
read, it was now increased tenfold at the sight of the 
author. Infantine in appearance, and clad in the 
very garb of wretchedness; with a meagre, half- 
starved, but intelligent countenance ; a coat much too 
large for him, and his shoulders and arms seen naked 
through it ; without waistcoat, shirt, or stockings ; 
with a pair of breeches made for a fall-grown person, 
soiled and ragged, reaching to his ancles ; his un- 
covered toes thrust through a pair of old slippers 
without heels, almost of the magnitude of Kamts- 
katka snow-shoes ; his hair clotted with glue, and his 
face and almost naked body smeared and disfigured 
with paint of different colours, black, blue, red, green, 
and yellow : — thus in amazement stood before them, 
w r ith a small pot of size in one hand, and a hair- 
brush in the other, the translator of Horace, Virgil, 
and Anacreon ! Each of the performers felt a sym- 
pathetic glow of tenderness for the wretched boy, and 
each seemed anxious to administer to his neces- 
sities. Among the number was Mr. Owenson; a 
gentleman conspicuous for his domestic attach- 
ments, and distinguished by his humanity. In 
him Dermody found a benefactor; he treated 
him with tenderness, received him into his family 
with affection, clothed, and became a second parent 
to him. 

"At the appointed time, Dermody made his 
appearance at the house of his new friend. The 
description which Mrs. Owenson had received of him 
from her husband, raised in her mind the greatest 



anxiety ; and, being a lady of extreme feeling and 
sensibility, on seeing before her a child so forlorn 
and destitute, she burst into a flbod of tears, clasped 
him in her arms, and gave vent to the noblest feel- 
ings of humanity. When he had partaken of some 
refreshment, which was pressed upon him with the 
warmest cordiality, Mr. Owenson asked him if he had 
any knowledge of the history of the college, or bf its 
members. He answered, that the only information 
he had ever received, was that which magazines had 
occasionally given him. As Mr. Owenson's plan was 
to get him introduced to some distinguished person 
in the University, he thought that a theme on the 
subject would be a probable mode of paving the way 
to so desirable an object : he therefore gave him a 
slight account of it, and desired him to write down 
his thoughts in verse, and to notice the professors 
and students of the present day. Dermody took 
his leave ; and in less than three quarters of an hour 
returned w T ith about fifty lines, written as if he had 
been acquainted with the history of the university 
since its foundation was laid. Mr. Owenson was so 
much astonished at what he had done in the short 
time of his absence, that he began to doubt the pos- 
sibility of his having been without some secret assis- 
tance from more matured talent ; and lest he him- 
self should be imposed upon, and laughed at for his 
credulity, he immediately carried pen, ink, and paper, 
into an adjoining room, gave him another subject to 
write upon, closed the door, and with impatience 
waited the result. In twenty minutes he re-entered 
and produced a poem that would have made any 
further disbelief in his genius a crime. Mr. Owen- 
son, being now fully convinced that he was in. every 
respect what he had been represented to be, with all 
the reality of friendship and the ardour of humanity, 



put in force the plan of getting him an immediate 
introduction to the college." So far Mr. Ray- 

Owenson' s generous interest in the boy increased, 
and through the instrumentality of his kinsman, the 
Bev. Dr. Young, afterwards bishop of Clontert, he 
laboured with success in getting Dermody admission 
to the University of Dublin. Dr. Young, who was a 
Senior Fellow r and Professor in the college, undertook 
to superintend the young poet's studies. 

" Though the prospect was flattering," continues 
Mr. Kaymond, " which now opened for Dermody's 
future comfort and pursuits, Mr. Owenson' s zeal was 
still unabated; and he carried and introduced him in 
the same garments to many of the most exalted cha- 
racters in Dublin. His reception was uniformly such 
as humanity could wish. Mr. Owenson always intro- 
duced him in rags, that his appearance might excite 
both w r onder and compassion. The general plan 
which he adopted when the ceremony of introduction 
was over (which sometimes created much mirth) was, 
to ask for a Horace ; and desire the gentleman of the 
house either to open the book and take an ode by 
chance, or to -fix on any particular one, and then in 
the presence of the company he made Dermody 
translate it into English verse ; which he always did 
with a peculiar grace, and in as short a time as any 
person could construe it in. When Mr. Owenson 
had fully satisfied their curiosity and gratified the 
feelings of the company, he generally left them, in 
order that at a future time he might have a claim on 
their generosity. 

" He now fitted up an apartment for him in his 
own house, stripped him of his rags, made him the 
companion of his children, and treated him with all 
the endearing affection of a father. He had just lost 



his only son, and he considered this as a substitute 
sent by Providence. Mrs. Owenson, who loved 
genius under whatever form it 'presented itself, and 
united to this intellectual propensity a benevolence 
the most unbounded, entered with the fondest solici- 
tude into the interest of the child of her adoption, 
and taught her two amiable daughters to consider 
him almost as a being of a superior order. Her 
injunction was at all times held too sacred to be dis- 
ooeyed ; but in the present case indeed it was unne- 
cessary ; from their mother they inherited the tender 
throb of sensibility, and light and pleasant as the day 
was the task they had now to perform. 

" x\s soon as a new wardrobe was prepared for 
Dermody, he made a burnt-offering of his old, and 
committed his former habiliments to the flames 
with classic solemnity ; creating his new sisters 
high-priestesses of the altar, and their mother the 
presiding idol of the ceremony. "While he stood in 
silence viewing the flames, his conscience appeared to 
strike him; and with a want of refined delicacy which 
his youth rendered innocent and perfectly excusable 
even before such spectators, eagerly snatching his 
breeches from the general conflagration, he thus 
apostrophized them. - " 

But the poem, which is below Dermody's average 
power, the reader will readily excuse us for withold- 

In eccentricity of movement, mental and bodily, 
and in tendency to laziness, Dermody was u every 
inch a poet and Mr. Owenson soon discovered, to 
his no small chagrin, that the bard's attendance at 
college had been most capriciously irregular. When- 
ever he paid Dr. Young a visit, it was to discharge a 
flood of tears at the scholastic drudgery which had 
been opened, by special favour, to him ; and to be- 



wail the loss of these caresses which he once enjoyed 
in the arms of the muses. " As often as possible," 
writes Mr. Raymond, " he would sculk from what he 
called torture, and spend his hours playing with his 
adopted sisters, or in writing sonnets appropriate to 
the familiar incidents of their happy home." Although 
Dr. Young possessed a poet's cognomen he had 
neither bardic taste nor talent ; and Derinody, as may 
be supposed, soon fell into dire disgrace at Alma 

Mr. Owenson's intentions to serve Derinody did 
not stop here. He introduced the boy to the Rev. 
Gilbert Austin, a clergyman of great worth and learn- 
ing who at that time kept a school of deservedly high 
repute in Dublin. Mr. Austin entered earnestly into 
the matter, and a plan was immediately adopted for 
the completion of his studies. Dermody continued 
for some time to attend the academy ; but he mani- 
fested greater regularity in seeking his meals and bed 
at the house of his benefactor, than in penetrating 
the depths of Murray's Logic, or unravelling the 
mysteries of the Greek Lexicon. 

Not long subsequent to this date we find Dermody 
thus addressing Mr. Owenson. 

Long has my muse, devoid of wonted fire, 
Her song neglected, and unstrung her lyre ; 
Too long, alas ! has felt the iron hand 
Of dire affliction : — but at thy command 
Again she tunes her strain ; again she tries 
On feeble pinion eagerly to rise ; 

Again the bard renews his ancient lays, „ 

And humbly dares attempt to sing thy praise ; 

Praise which, though void of ev'ry grace of art, 

Yet flows unstudied from a grateful heart ; 

For though no flatt'ry decks my servile line, 

Yet truth superior makes thy fame divine. 

I say but that which modesty might hear, 

Yet unabash'd confess these lines sincere. 



This effusion, however, by no means conveys an 
adequate idea of Dennody's ordinary poetic power. 

" His adopted sisters/ 1 continues Mr. Raymond, 
** in whose society he passed so many happy hours, 
were too affectionately regarded not to receive fre- 
quent tender marks of his esteem ; and in the inno- 
cent play-mate they found the kind admonisher. 

Dear girls, in youth and beauty's prime 
Despise not friendship's graver rhyme ; 
Friendship, that marks your early bloom 
Perfection's brightest tints assume. 
The tints of modest -worth divine, 
When sense and harmless wit combine, 
Prompt each low passion to control, 
Or bind in rosy chains the soul. 
Oh. ever charming! let not Pride, \ 
Usurper bold, your breasts divide, > 
Xor fashion beauteous nature hide; I 
Assur'd your soft eyes' radiaut hue 
Can heal, disturb, and conquer too ; 
Oh ! let not Affectation, queen 
Of the nice lisp, the mincing mien, 
And studied glance, obscure their rays, 
Blighting the bloomy wreath of praise. 

Yet, sure, this idly moral strain 
Is both presumptuous and vain; 
For well your tender hearts I know; 
Hearts formed to melt at every woe, &C. 

The unfortunate young poet was not long in fall- 
ing into as high disfavour with Mr. Austin as he had 
previously done with Dr. Young. Some practical 
Anacreontic tendencies aroused the virtuous ire of the 
clergyman. He quarrelled with Dermody ; ordered 
him to perform some menial offices ; and the poet 
retaliated by writing a very caustic lampoon on lis 
preceptor. Mr. Austin had previously shewn him 
many solid acts of kindness; but all intimacy was 
now irrevocably at an end, and the frail bard was for- 
bidden Mr. Austin's house for ever. " Mr. Owen- 



son/' says Dermody's biographer, "was not one of 
these stern and relentless moralists, who, for a few 
youthful irregularities, would abandon the object of his 
care to perpetual distress. He grieved at the cause 
which obliged Mr. Austin to withdraw his protection ; 
but at the same time he had the tenderness not to 
surfer the late object of it to be driven forth an out- 
cast, to despair and perish." He accordingly intro- 
duced Dermody to Mr. Atkinson, Judge Advocate of 
Ireland, through whom the poor boy-poet was pa- 
tronised and almost adopted by Lady Moira. But 
even this great patroness of literature became, even- 
tually, disgusted with Dermody, who had now fallen 
into habits of intemperance and levity. He sank 
from bad to worse until, at last, death seemed a happy 
release to his misery. 

In this deplorable state Dermody remained for a 
considerable time, and were it not for his tried and 
steady friend, Robert Owenson, by whose interest he 
was enabled to publish a volume of poems, he would 
probably have perished for want of bread. So as- 
siduous was Owenson in his exertions to make the 
publication profitable, that he frequently took his 
stand in an eminent bookseller's shop, and not only 
offered the book for sale to the persons who entered, 
with an introductory sketch of the doleful history of 
the luckless bard, but absolutely accosted the passen- 
gers who passed the door. The biographer of Der- 
mody assures us that Mr. Owenson "was very gener- 
ally known and respected, and he was rarely unsuc- 
cessful in these applications."" Owenson thus pro- 
cured him considerable relief. Nor were Dermody's 
personal applications to the good-natured actor less 
productive. That his situation was often as pitiable 
as his benefactor's liberality was praiseworthy is 
evident. Writing to Owenson he says : — " Your 



bounty to me has been like the Ocean, boundless 
and illimitable. From my appearance I am almost 
ashamed to call upon you. I shall only say that I 
have fasted for a longer time than caused the death 
of Chatterton."* To which Owenson replied : 

" Accept the enclosed; and while so poor a man 
as myself can purchase a loaf yon shall never want a 
share of it. in common with my dear girls. In 
answer to your former note call at Mr. Dixon's, 
corner of Crow Street, and by my desire he will give 
you three pair of stockings : it will be time enough 
to get some of that commodity when you enter the 
College, if ever you should have grace enough to 
accomplish so desired an object. Get them of such 
a kind as will be useful, not fashionable. Call at 
Rourk's and you will get a pair of shoes. I think 
you want them." 

Owenson' s kindness to Dermody brought its own 
recompense. Sydney, in a copy of verses entitled 
6C Retrospection," which she threw off in the year 
18 00, thus refers to her juvenile friend, 

And you my sometime brother, o'er whose birth 

Genius presided ! wit new strung his lyre ; 
The muse her future bard to slumbers sung, 

And e'en his lisping numbers did inspire ! 

Thou form'd my infant taste, and from thy lips, 

My mind imbib'd th' enthusiastic glow ; 
The love of literature, which thro' my life 

Heightened each bliss, and soften'd every woe ! 

* John Francis Waller, who, whether in song or story is always 
true and sparkling, writes : " Dermody must be ranked amongst 
the greatest geniuses. His early poems are superior in fancy, 
sentiment, and nature, to those written by Pope or Cowley at a 
more advan^d age ; and it is impossible to read his prose essays 
without being impressed with the purity and elegance of his style, 
the sobriety and sound judgment of his criticisms, the correctness 
of his taste, and the extent of his erudition." 


In the first edition of this work, it was inciden- 
tally mentioned that Lady Morgan in her very early 
life had performed for some time with her father 
upon the boards ; but no authorities were produced 
for the assertion, beyond a passing reminiscence ex- 
pressed by the late Dr. Burke of the Rifle Brigade. 
"I well remember/' said that gentleman, "the plea- 
sure with which I saw Owenson personate Major 
O'Flaherty in Cumberland's then highly popular 
Comedy of the 6 West Indian/ and I also well re- 
member that the long-afterwards widely-famed Lady 
Morgan performed at the same time, with her father, 
either in the c West Indian ' or an afterpiece. This 
took place at Castlebar before the merry, convivial 
Lord Tyrawley and the officers of the North Mayo 

"Miss Owenson/' observed a high literary au- 
thority, " may have performed in private theatricals 
at Castlebar, before ' the convivial Lord Tyrawley/ 
without being a member of any dramatic company, 
and without playing on any public stage. A ge- 
nuine biographical charm attaches to the inquiry, and 
Mr. Fitzpatrick should pursue it. Lady Morgan 
had a most happy genius for stage mimicry and cha- 
racterization, was. most passionately attached to pri- 
vate theatricals ; and it would be curious to know 
whether she had ever displayed this genius on the 
real stage/'* 

* " Athenaeum," September 10, 1859.— If any Private Theatrical 
exhibition tcok place at Castlebar, before Lord Tyrawley, there is 
no mention of it in the valuable work entitled " The Private 
Theatre at Kilkenny, and other Private Theatres in Ireland," of 
which fifty copies only were printed, in 1825. The list begins 
with a notice of the theatrical performances at Mr^Brownlow's 
of Lurgan in 1759, and Mr. Conolly's of Castletown, in the fol- 
lowing year. In 1761, Lord Kildare opened Carton to a series of 
similar entertainments. In 1774, plays were got up at Knock- 



There are very few persons now living, competent 
to furnish any personal information on this point. 
All we can do is to collect a few waifs and strays, 
and let the reader draw his own conclusion. An oc- 
togenarian player, Mr. W. A Donaldson, in his re- 
cently published " Fifty Years of an Actor's Life," 
tells us, " Lady Morgan is the oldest writer in Great 
Britain. This highly gifted woman begun her career 
in the dramatic world. Her father was the manager 
of several theatres in Ireland, where she sustained 
characters suited to her juvenile years, with consider- 
able ability, but when her father ceased management, 
her ladyship devoted her attention to literature." To 
this evidence it may be added, that one of Ireland's 
most distinguished Celtic scholars, was assured by 
the late Dean Lyons of Erris, by the late Thaddeus 
Connellan, Itinerant Preacher in Connaught, and by 
the late Mr. Nolan clerk of the Ordnance at Athlone, 
that they had seen Owenson and his little daughter, act 
at Sligo and elsewhere, throughout Connaught. But 
in recording these reminiscences, it is right to add 

topher, Farmley, and Kilfane, the seats of Sir H. Langrish, Henry 
Flood, and Gervais Parker Bushe. Grattan acted the part of 
Macbeth, on one of these occasions, and his great rival Flood that 
of Macduff. In 1776, the Right Hon. David La Touche, pro- 
duced a theatrical fete at Marlay. Shane's Castle, Co. Antrim, the 
seat of Mr. afterwards Lord O'Neill, became the scene of theatric 
festivities in 1785. Lord Mountjoy opened a private theatre in 
1778. The Countess of Ely, in 1786, and again in 1789, pro- 
duced a series of dramatic entertainments known as " The Attic 
Theatre," at Ely Place Dublin. In 1 787, 41 The Shane's Castle 
Association," got up a very beautiful little theatre in Shaw's 
Court, Dublin, the site of w r hich is now occupied by the Commer- 
cial Buildings. Lord and Lady Grandison during the same year, 
indulged their friends with a few plays at Dromara, County of 
Waterford. In 1793 Fishamble Street Theatre, was taken by a 
company of noblemen and gentlemen, and in 1795, French plays 
were performed at Roebuck Castle, the seat of Lord Trimbleston. 




that the impression of Lady Morgan's nieces is that 
she, at no period, appeared on the stage. 

The result of a few substantial benefits at Smock 
Alley enabled Owenson to hire successively some of 
the provincial theatres in Ireland. Accompanied by 
a small but select company he went the round of 
them in 1785. Early personal and local associa- 
tions led him to give the preference of selection to 
the province of Connaught. 

A distinguished member of the Royal Hibernian 
Academy, and a native of the west of Ireland, tells 
me that he often heard his late father describe the 
colossal form of Owenson as he wound his way, with 
some theatrical dresses on one arm, and his tiny 
daughter Sydney supported on the other — down 
Market Street, Sligo, en route to the little theatre 
adjacent. This interesting incident probably oc- 
curred about the year 1788. Mrs. Owenson must 
have been dead at that time. It is at least certain 
that the good lady was not living in 1789.* She 
remained quite long enough, however, to leave an 
indelible impression on the mind of little Sydney, 
and to endear her memory, in a peculiar manner, to 
the children. In some lines on her " Birth Day," 
written about the year 1798, Sydney refers to 

" The cheap, the guileless joys of youthful hours, 

The strengthening intellect's expanding powers ; 

The doating glance of fond maternal eyes, 

The soft endearment of life's earliest ties: 

The anxious warning that so often glow'd 

On these dear lips, whence truth and fondness flowed. 

Those lips that ne'er the stern command impos'd, 
These thrice dear lips — for ever, ever closed ! 

The result of much inquiry on the subject has 
convinced us that Sydney Owenson never performed 

* Raymond's Life of Dermody, v. i. p. 106. 



at any of the Dublin Theatres, but may have ap- 
peared, when a mere child, in connection with some 
of her father's professional tours through the wes- 
tern counties of Ireland. Owenson always flung 
himself into theatricals with hearty raciness and 
abandon;' but the more he saw of stage life, its 
temptations, dangers, and anxieties, the stronger 
grew his disinclination to see any near and dear rela- 
tive of his treading the boards. 

Greatly to Owenson' s credit, he placed little 
Sydney successively at two excellent educational es- 
tablishments, one at Drumcondra, and the other near 
Clontarf, both in the immediate vicinity of Dublin. 
The first was situated opposite Belvidere, the residence 
of the late Sir Coghill Coghill, and has been for many 
years used as a Widow's Alms House. Shortly 
before Lady Morgan's death, she obtained a photo- 
graph of this old building, in fond recollection of 
Auld Lang Syne. Whether this was the school 
noticed by Seward in his account of Drumcondra, 
as having been founded by the late George Purdon 
Drew in 1784?,* it is not easy to determine. Some 
time subsequently, Owenson sent his two little girls 
to an eminent boarding school, in the neighbourhood 
of Clontarf, of which Madame Tesone, an accom- 
plished French lady, was the principal. Here it was 
that Miss Owenson acquired that facility and fancy 
for French dialogue and phraseology with which her 
subsequent writings were extensively interlarded. 
Mr. P — of Dublin, now in his eighty-ninth year, 
remembers the Miss Owensons at Madame Tesone's 
school. In 1796, Owenson opened a theatre in the 
ball-room of Mrs. Pye's inn at Ballyshannon. "As 
he was an animated, lively, and witty gentleman of 

* Topograpbia Hibernica, Dublin, 1795. 

E 2 



good address/' observes an esteemed correspondent,* 
" he had contracted a tolerable intimate acquaintance 
in the house of a Mrs. Williams, a near relation of 
ours, and living next door to niy father's house. 
This old lady often had Owenson and his two daugh- 
ters to spend their evenings with her, and I recollect 
often hearing Mrs. AVilliams discuss the subject that 
Owenson always declared that, with his consent, his 
daughters should never adopt the stage as a profes- 
sion. Owenson, on this visit to Ballyshannon 
produced amongst other pieces, c The Spoiled Child/ 
This part was performed by Miss ^Valstein, who 
afterwards attained great celebrity on the stage." 

The book which chiefly formed and guided Miss 
Owenson's literary taste was the ' Anthologia Hiber- 
nica/ a monthly magazine, started at Dublin in 1793. 
It breathed a healthy tone of nationality, aud incul- 
cated an appreciation of Irish worthies, literature, 
archeology, self-reliance and self-respect. In the list 
of subscribers to the work the name Miss Owen- 
son may be found. It was the * Anthologia Hiber- 
nica' which introduced Moore's youthful muse to the 

Some doubts have been expressed as to the re- 
ligious opinions in which Sydney Owenson was reared 
and educated. The following passage, however, is 
Conclusive on the subject. In 1807, she tells 
us, in a note to ' The Patriotic Sketches ' " For myself, 
though one among the many in my own country 
who have been educated in the most rigid adherence 
to the tenets of the Church of England, I should, 
like the poor Maritoanes of Cervantes, think myself 
endowed with very few ' sketches and shadows of 
Christianity/ were I to confine virtue to sect; or 

* Letter from E A , Esq., J. P., Ballvshannon. 



make the speculative theory of opinion the test of 
moral excellence, or proof of human perfection." 

Lady Morgan has been heard to say that her mother 
though possessing many endearing domestic virtues, 
was a person of such excessive Puritanical tendencies 
that instead of stimulating the religious zeal of her 
children, she but too fatally gave them a distaste 
to long visaged sanctity, and all practises of the 
"Praise-God-Bare-Bones school." To this circum- 
stance may be attributed the occasional deistic tone 
visible in some of the later writings of Lady Morgan. 
But let it not be supposed that the authoress 
was wanting in affectionate devotion to her mother's 
memory. In addition to the evidence already adduced, 
the following lines from a little piece called "Re- 
trospection," printed in 1801, shews the contrary : 

My sainted mother too, methinks I view 
Thy endearing smile, my ever sweet reward ; 

For each unfolding talent ever gain'd 

Thy fond approvings, and thy dear regard. 

Even still methinks, soft vibrate in mine ear, 
Thy well remember'd tones, and still I trace 

In thy dear eyes, thy fond maternal love, 

Catch thy last look, and feel thy last embrace. 

The dying wish that hover'd o'er thy lips, 

Thy last, last words, soft, trembling, broken, faint, 

That my sad breaking heart receiv'd of thine, 
And spoke the woman's conquest o'er the saint ! 

Were these, " dear child of all my tenderest care, 
Transfer that duteous love to me you pay'd, 

To thy dear sire ; — live but for him," and died ; — 
Say blessed spirit, have I disobeyed ? 

Owenson took a thoroughly warm interest in his 
little girls, and shewed them much more affectionate 



attention than the generality of players can afford 
to do. The late George Stawell of the Minister Bar 
in conversing with the gentleman from whom we give 
the anecdote, observed: "I lodged, when a young man, 
opposite to Mr. Owenson, in Dublin ; and nothing, 
even then, struck me more than the regularity with 
which the widower, leaving the gaieties of the city be- 
hind, would, twice every day, take his little daughters, 
Olivia and Sydney, out to walk with him. His heart ap- 
peared to be entirely wrapped up in his two girls 
whom he used to bring with him, holding one by each 
hand, into the country." 

Many more illustrations might be cited to shew 
the activity, strength, and vigilance of Owenson's 
parental feeling. He knew the w r orld and its dan- 
gers well. An octogenarian resident of Sligo, writing 
to the author on November 12th, 1859, observes: 
"When Owenson visited Sligo with his dramatic 
company he used to lodge at Mrs. Browne's in 
Market Street. The town was then a wondrously 
gay place, full of military and militia, theatricals, 
balls, and so forth. Owenson was so careful of 
his little girls that he would not leave them behind 
him in Dublin, although his means were often crippled 
enough. The officers who used frequently to have 
Owenson at their mess (who was the life and soul 
of society) thought they had nothing to do but call 
on the player's daughters at their lodgings, and, 
when sick of billiards, to while away some of their 
heavy leisure moments in a flirtation or two. Owen- 
son was indignant at this liberty, and I well remem- 
ber his saying to the two girls "If ever they call 
again, send for me that moment, that I may turn 
the idle rascals out/' As he said this he drew up 
his enormous frame to its fullest height, with a 



flashing eye, and he really looked as though he not 
only would, but could, pitch an entire mess-room 
of ensigns out of the window in one arm full/' 

This anecdote belongs to the year 1795 ; but 
as it helps to illustrate some preceding remarks 
we have ventured to anticipate a little. 

It is not surprising that Owenson's parental vir- 
tues should have tilled the susceptible and appreciative 
mind of his daughter with impulses of the most lively 
affection and gratitude. Since the sad day when 
little Sydney and her still smaller sister were de- 
prived of their poor mother's protection and guidance, 
their love, as was only natural, became entwined 
around the remaining parent with concentrated in- 

From Sydney's heart and lips this filial feeling 
found frequent utterance. A little poem written 
by Miss Owenson in her infancy, and suggested by 
a portrait of her father, is not without its charms 
and beauties : — 

Dear shade of him my heart holds more than dear, 
Author of all that fond heart's purest bliss ; 

Dear shade, I hail thee with a rapturous tear, 
And welcome thee with many a tender kiss ! 

This brow indeed is his; broad, candid, fair, 
Where nature's honest characters are wrote ; 

But o'er the beauteous transcript, morbid Care 
And Time, of late, their ruthless fingers smote ; 

And this th' expressive eye, whose glance I've woo'd, 
(For ah ! beneath that glance each task seemed light ;) 

I've seen this eye with tears of fondness dew'd, 
And through the lucid radiance beam more bright. 

Seen it transfix' d with sweet, approving gaze, 

On some faint strain the youthful muse inspir'd ; 

Seen it for hours pursue the pencil's maze, 
With parent pride, and partial fondness fir'd ! 



But painter, far above thy wond'rous art 

Were these dear lips ; dear lips where ever play r d 

The smile benignant, where the honest heart 
In undisguis'd effusions, careless strayed ! 

Dear lips where oft each fond endearment glow'd, 
Less prompt to emanate reproof than praise ; 

Dear lips from whence the anxious counsel flow'd, 
The moral precepts, or amusive lays. 

These shoulders too I've climbed to sleal a kiss, 
These locks my infant hands have oft carest ; 

These arms I oft have filled, and shared the bliss, 
For ah ! with me, these arms a sister prest ! 

Twin objects of the tenderest father's care, 
A mother's loss we rather knew than felt ; 

Twin objects still of every ardent prayer, 

On whom each thought, each fear, each fond hope dwelt ! 

Come then, thou thrice dear shade, for ah ! no more, 
Thou true and lov'd resemblance will we part ; 

For till the last faint thrill of life is o'er, 

Dear shade, I'll wear thee next my beating heart ! 

And so she did. A more filially fond heart never 
existed ; and to the last day of Lady Morgan's long 
life, her father's memory and portrait were venerated 
and treasured by her with an ardour and enthusiasm, 
as edifying as it w T as intense. 

The striking resemblance which those lines, and 
others on her mother — published elsewhere in this 
memoir — bear to Cowper's verses on his mother's 
picture, cannot fail to have struck the reader. We 
not only have the same thought and metre, but 
the same mood and impersonation. It must, how- 
ever, be recollected that the infant poetess borrowed 
the flowers to adorn her mother's bier, and her 
father's brow. 

Richard Daly opened the " New Theatre Royal," 
Crow Street, on January 18th, 1788, w T ith a sufficient 



if not a strong company, of which Robert Owenson 
was one. The decorations were of a very gorgeous 
character, as well they might be, for, as an adver- 
tisement of the day assures us, " Mr. Daly having 
expended upwards of £5,000, unassisted by public 
aid, or private subscription, will, he trusts, speak 
more powerfully than any terms he could find to 
express his uniform wish to advance the reputation 
of the stage, and merit the patronage of a city 
whose national entertainments he has the honour 
to conduct. NB. The house will be illuminated 
with wax/'* 

Owenson' s favourite character at Crow Street, 
throughout 1788, seems to have been Friar Tuck 
in Leonard Mac Nally's comic opera of " Robin 
Hood." The Marquis of Buckingham, Lord-Lieu- 
tenant of Ireland commanded and witnessed the 

During the previous year Owenson's performances 
were more frequent and varied. His chief parts 
seem to have been Zedan in Mrs. Inchbald's " Such 
Things Are," Colonel Staff in Leonard Mac Nally's 
comedy of "Fashionable Levities," Counseller Flum- 
mery in O'Keefe's musical interlude of " The Farmer," 
and The Governor in " The Critic."^ 

On Monday, January 12th, 1789, Owenson played 
Oliver in a As you like it ;" but did not appear 
again at Crow Street during that year, until De- 
cember 19th, when he performed Sergeant Jack in 
O'Keefe's comic opera of "The Highland Reel." 
This piece brought his lungs into frequent play. 
Among other vocal efforts he was obliged to vociferate 
Handel's Grand Drum March. The interval of 
Owenson's absence from Dublin was no doubt 

* Dublin Chronicle, January 17th, 1788. 

f Ibid, November 8th, 1788, &c. 

X Sleator's Dublin Chronicle for 1787, passim. 



spent in a professional tour through the Pro- 
vinces. The theatrical advertisements of the 
time shew that " The Highland Keel " and " Ser- 
jeant Jack" had a considerable run in Dublin. 
On Thursday, February 18th, 1790, was pro 
duced, for the first time, the comic opera of "The 
Haunted Tower," in which Owenson sustained the 

part of Martin. Mr. P , of Dublin, already 

referred to, well remembers the infinite humour 
with which Owenson, about the year 1 7 89, performed 
Captain O'Cutter in Column's comedy of "The 
Jealous Wife." Acting which could leave an im- 
pression so deep and enduring must have had 
something peculiarly vivid in it. The fact is not 
less creditable to Owenson's fame as a comedian 
than to the vigour of our respected informant's 
memory. His retentiveness is corroborated by Slea- 
tor/s 'Dublin Chronicle' of May the lbth, 1790, in 
which it is announced that Owenson will on that 
evening perform the part of Captain O'Cutter. The 
other characters in the piece were sustained by 
Palmer, Cherry, and Mrs. Abington. "Owenson's 
liberal education, singularly gentleman-like deport- 
ment, polished manners, and exquisite humour," 
observes a writer fifty years ago,* "rendered him 
a welcome guest at the first tables." Could it have 
been to Owenson that George Colman alluded, who, 
when he went to see the actors at the Dublin Theatre 
perform his own comedy of "The Jealous Wife," 
said that they all spoke with the most determined 
brogue except Captain O'Cutter (the only Irish 
character in the piece) who gave forth pure and 
perfect English throughout tiie whole of the per- 
formance.f" Prom May ISth, 1790, until May 10th, 

* 4 Freeman's Journal/ May 2Sth, 1812. 

t Reminiscences of Michael Kelly, v. ii. p. S*. 



in the following year, when he performed as Sir Lucius 
O'Trigger, we find no mention of Owenson's name 
in the Dublin play bills. During this interval he was 
evidently on duty through the Provinces with his 
strolling company. 

"Carried away by the tumultuous applause of 

the galleries," observes Mr. P , "Owenson was 

occasionally induced to burlesque his characters too 
much; but he quickly corrected himself and resumed 
a tolerably accurate conception of the dramatist's ideal. 
He had a simplicity of face when he said f It is a 
very pretty quarrel as it stands/ which was de- 
lightful.*" Another source writes from information 
furnished by the Apostle of Lower Connaught. " He 
was sometimes so comical looking, and so full of 
humour that the very face of him would excite loud 
laughter/'' It has often been said that as a delineator 
of the Irish character, Johnstone never had his 
equal before or since. Barrington, however, speak- 
ing of Johnstone, says that " Nature had not given 
him enough of that original shoulder -twist, and what 
they call the poteen twang, which so strongly 
characterises the genuine vis comica of the lower 
orders of the Irish. In this respect Owenson was 
superior to him/""* 

Daly held the patent of the Theatre Royal, Crow 
Street, conjointly with Francis Higgins, surnamed 
the Sham Squire, perhaps the most loathsome public 
character that had ever figured in Ireland. As we 
learn for the first time from the recently published 
Cornwallis Correspondence, it was Higgins who re- 
ceived the Government reward for the betrayal of 
Lord Edward Fitzgerald. The Dublin Evening 
Post, then the exclusive organ of the popular party, 

* Sir Jonah Barrington's Personal Sketches, vol. ii. p. 207. 



poured a perpetual broadside of ridicule on Daly and 
Higgins. The Sham Squire edited the Government 
newspaper of that day, and Daly seems to have been 
vilified on no other grounds than those furnished by 
the old adage, " show me your company and I will 
tell you who you are." In the Dublin Evening Post 
of May and June, 1789, we find frequent poetic 
squibs exploding at Daly's expense. One casually 
alludes to the mutiny against Daly which Owenson 
was sometimes induced to head. Daly's days of pros- 
perity were, at this time, numbered : 

And is it come to this, at last, he cried, 

Gone is the food of ail my former pride j 

No more will actors on my steps attend, 

Or humble actresses obedient bend. 

No more will authors at my levee wait, 

No more I'll damn their works in pompous state ; 

E'en now perhaps with joys does Chalmers burn, 

And Owenson will kick me in his turn. 

# * * * 

Yet this shall end my woes and me, he cried, 
And drew his glittering weapon from his side; 
But as too hard the yielding blade he prest, 
The tragic tin bent harmless on his breast. 

It is a fact worthy of note, and curiously illustrative 
of the lax system of law prevailing in Ireland at the pe- 
riod of which we write, that Richard Daly having swore 
that in consequence of this Poem he had received 
damages to the amount £4000, Lord-Chief- Justice 
Clonmel, granted a fiat against the Proprietor of the 
Evening Post, marked with that exorbitant amount, 
although the damages subsequently given by the 
Jury were £200 only..* The Chief Justice's unconstitu- 
tional conduct was brought before Parliament, and 
the result was a law restricting the judges in future 
to an inferior and definite sum. 

* Irish Parliamentary Register, vol. 11. Trial of John Magee 
for libel on R. Daly, Dublin 1790. 



We have spoken of the rapturous applause with 
which Owenson was often received, especially by the 
galleries. Some interesting exceptional cases might 
be cited. * I have frequently spoken to old men/' 
writes an illustrious Irishman, "who saw Owenson 
hissed off the stage in Dublin for singing an Irish 
song—' The Drirnmin-doo-deelish' — which he used to 
sing very well. But the Dublin audience in his 
time was strongly anti-Irish and Orange in their 

The Drimmin-dhu-Deelish is an Irish Jacobite 
relic of which Samuel Ferguson has given us a trans- 
lation. It literary signifies " Brown Cow/' but most 
people knew that King James, and not the Cow, was 
the real object of the singer's eulogy and love. The 
"Black Bird/' another treasonable song, had a 
similar style and aim. Both were political pass- 
words. We can well imagine the earnestness with 
which the violent champions of the Protestant ascen- 
dancy of that day hissed Owenson off the stage when- 
ever he attempted to sing the original Irish of the 
following : 

But if I could get sight of the crown on his brow, 
By night and day travelling to London I'd go ; 
Over mountains of mist and soft mosses below, 
Till I'd beat on the kettle-drums, Drimmin Dhu, 

Welcome home, welcome home, Drimmin Dhu, ! 
Good was your sweet milk, for drinking, I trow ; 
With your face like a rose, and your dewlap of snow, 
I'll part from you never, ah Drimmin Dhu, G f 

* Letter from John O'Donovan, L.L.D., September 1, 1859. 

f Calanan has also translated this Jacobite relic. In his ver- 
sion the brown " Drimmin ,, is asked " where are the strong 
ones ?" to which she replies that they sleep beneath the cold 
turf, but that like leaves on the trees, new people will arise to 
chase the flint-hearted Saxon away. 



Mr. Donaldson tells us that Owenson sung the 
Drimmin-dhu-Peelish " with such feeling as brought 
the tear to beauty's eye/'* Another celebrated song 
of Owenson's was u The Kilruddery Hunt/' or Shela- 
na-guira, a spirited Tally-ho effusion. Of his Con- 
naught songs, " Shela beg na Connel lawn" (little 
Shela Connellan) was probably the best. " He is 
author of some of the best Irish songs extant/' 
says a writer in 1812. "He played with taste and 
skill on several instruments, and was the last surviv- 
ing pupil of Doctors Arne and Worgan."f 

In 1793 we find Owenson still with Daly. The <An- 
thologia Hibernica' for March 179-3 says " the acknow- 
ledged excellence of our deserving countryman in Irish 
characters is too well known for us to enlarge upon. 
His Foigard was given in his very best manner." 
Noticing Owenson's benefit, the ' Anthologia' tells us 
" Seldom has the theatre witnessed such an overflow. 
It was a just tribute to a man of irreproachable 
character in public and private." 

In L794, Owenson believing that the proverbial 
theatrical taste of Kilkenny furnished a good open- 
ing for the erection cf a new and handsome theatre J 
in that city, accordingly embarked in the arduous 
and costly undertaking alluded to. The work sped 
apace, but time proved that it reflected greater credit 
on Owenson's histrionic taste, than on his prudence. 
His capital was, by far, too small to justify him in 
attempting single handed, so important and exten- 
sive an undertaking. The difficulties which eventu- 
ally overwhelmed and ruined Owenson began to knit 
from this moment. It was beneath their pressure 
that little Sydney penned some sad lines, be- 
ginning : 

* Donaldson's " Fifty Years of an Actor's Life." Part I. 
t « Freeman's Journal,' May 28th, 1812. J Ibid. 



Come, balmy sleep, thou transient, sweet relief, 
Shed o'er my aching eyes thy soothing power ; 

And mingle with the silent tear of grief, 
One drop extracted from thy opiate flower ! 

The handsome edifice that Owenson erected at 
Kilkenny, was afterwards immortalized as the scene 
of the far-famed amateur theatricals to which Tom 
Moore, Miss O'Neil, Bushe, Crampton, and Corrj im- 
parted a rich lustre. In 1851 it was thrown down, in 
order to make room for the erection of a public meet- 
ing rpom. A very small portion still remains. 

Owenson about this time became patentee of the 
Londonderry Theatre."* His company was small but 
select, and included many persons who subsequently 
attained the highest rank on the stage. Miss Wal- 
stein at this period plaved such parts as "The 
Spoiled Child," and " The Four Mowbrays." 

The violent political ferment, however, which agi- 
tated Ulster from 1790, until quenched by the 
blood shed in '98, completely 'neutralized its once 
proverbial theatrical taste. People thought only of 
party politics and excesses. The Londonderry 
Theatre. was deserted. Owenson and his little com- 
pany played to empty benches ; a heavy pecuniary loss 
resulted, and hoping for better luck our wandering 
patentee shifted the scene of his labours to Connaught. 

The political excitement of Ulster at the period of 
which we write, may be inferred from a few historical 
facts. In 1784t the "Peep o'day boys/' after- 
wards known as " Wreckers/' and " Orangemen/' 
sprung up in the north of Ireland. They broke into 
the houses of their victims to search for arms ; and 
in doing so, confesses one of their body, " they often 
committed the most wanton outrages. J Full of loyal 

* < Freeman's Journal/ May 28th, 1812. 

f Madden's " United Irishmen," v. i. p. 120. 

J " History of the Rebellion," by Sir R. Musgave, p. 54. 



zeal, and replete with a violent desire to acquire the 
lands and tenements of the Roman Catholic peas- 
antry, they posted on every Papist's door, u To hell or 
Connaught." In the beginning of 1796, seven 
thousand Catholics had been forced or burned out of 
one northern county alone.* They took refuge in 
Connaught ; their property was transferred to Pro- 
testants. * That/' added Mr. Cristie, " occurred 
within my own knowledge."t 

The consequence was that the western province of 
Ireland became overcharged with population ; and 
Owenson hoped that among so many people, a dra- 
matic exhibition could not fail to pay. But the feel- 
ings of the major portion were steeped too deeply in 
gloom to seek or care for pleasure. Some, 'tis true, 
sought it in the hope of momentarily forgetting care, 
but the majority sternly held aloof. The population of 
Connaught at the close of the last century was a des- 
pondent, and to a theatrical manager, a deceptive 

Owenson could not afford to keep his daughters 
longer at Madame Tessone's academy. The property 
of which Mrs. Owenson was possessed, dropped, we 
believe, at her death. He removed the little girls 
from Clontarf to another but a cheaper school in 
Dublin. A party who ought to know much upon the 
subject, informs us that "little Sydney was (dually) 
educated by Miss Crowe, who kept an eminent sem- 
inary in North Earl Street, Dublin." 

In the Dublin Directory from 1787 to 1801, the 
name " Elizabeth Crowe, Milliner, 20, North Earl 
Street/' appears on record. That this establishment 
had some connection with u the eminent seminary," 

* Plowden's " History of Ireland," v. ii. p. 377. 
f Minutes of Evidence taken by the Select Committee on 
Orange Lodges, 1835, p. 379-80. 



up stairs, we are inclined to think likely. The 
local customs of the time sanctioned s&ch a combina- 
tion. Every student of the literary history of Ireland 
towards the close of the last century, is familiarly ac- 
quainted with the name of Samuel Whyte, the ac- 
complished preceptor of the Duke of Wellington, 
Sheridan, Moore, and Emmet. Whyte was a man 
of distinguished erudition, and a poet of no mean 
calibre. His seminary was, as Moore's Life of She- 
ridan informs us, the first in the metropolis. Wilson's 
Directories of the period thus notice it : — 

" Whyte, Samuel, Master of the \ 

Seminary for English Grammar, / 75 Grafton St/' 
Geography, &c. I 

Whyte, William, Grocer. ) 

When we find that Whyte's* famous Academy for 
Young Gentlemen was admittedly none the worse for 
its proximity to figs, sugar, and bottled cider, it 
would be hardly just or fair to condemn Miss Crowe's 
seminary for young ladies, because the shop below 
may have displayed a large and varied assortment of 

* Mr, Q— , now iii his eighty-first year, is, with one excep- 
tion, the last surviving pupil of Whyte's. That gentleman is our 
authority for the statement that the late Duke of Wellington re- 
ceived instructions at Whyte's academy. Mr. Q has heard 

his old preceptor vauntingly declare, that he had flogged the 
breech of the subjugator of Tippoo Saib. How vastly would Mr. 
Whyte's pride have increased, had he lived to boast that the con- 
queror of Napoleon had been under his hand, and piteously cried 

for mercy at his knees ! Mr. Q tells us that Whyte's taste 

and talent for flogging were not inferior to Mr. Squeers's passion 
in the same direction. Although his right arm was short almost 
to deformity, it possessed great strength, and was the terror of 

every pupil. " Such brutal flogging," observes Mr. Q , 

" would now no more be tolerated than an insolent attempt at 
assault and batterv in the public streets." Whyte died October 
4th, 1811. 



colossal hats, and other obsolete, but once fashion- 
able articles of female head -gear. 

Owenson fitted up a theatre in "Water Lane, Sligo, 
but his entertainment failed to meet with the encour- 
agement he had expected. The manager, however, 
resolved to give the speculation a patient trial, and 
not to abandon it hastily. At certain periods of the 
season he removed his company to Cork ; but only to 
return again to Sligo. Owenson's theatric staff 
must have been above the ordinary provincial calibre 
to stand the test of a Cork audience. O'Keefe, in 
noticing Irish dramatic talent in the last century, tells 
us that in Cork the Thespian art, and its actors were 
"in very high estimation. If a play on its first 
representation in London, should be driven from the 
stage, and an actor fail in a trial part, and therefore 
be neglected, such player and such actor were never 
brought either to Cork or Limerick. No dramatic 
piece was attempted to be acted in those places, but 
such as had gone through their probation, and been 
stamped with the seal of success by a London au- 
dience. The performers also were, in their walk, at 
the top of the profession." 

A characteristic and interesting, but not particu- 
larly important letter, addressed by little Sydney at 
school in Dublin, to her father, "at the theatre, 
Cork," has been preserved. The care which Owen- 
son took to make his daughter choose her company, as 
far as possible, above her, is traceable not less in this 
letter than in Lady Morgan's after life. Marlborough 
Street, to which she alludes, is situated, as most 
people know, within one minute's walk of the site of 
Miss Crowe's Academy. 

" October 30, 1794, 
" I have so often expatiated on the subject of 



suspence, that it would be mere tautology to say what 
I have felt at my D r Papa's long silence ; or rather 
to attempt saying, for sensations of that kind are 
easier conciev'd than expressed, and tho' your Dr 
letter disipated my fears, yet I am not free from 
uneasiness. That affection which is ever alive in the 
bosom of a fond child shrinks with sensitive feeling 
irom the touch of apprehension, and is only to be 
convinced by ocular demonstration. Thus (unthank- 
ful as I am) I shall never be happy until I see you 
comfortably seated by the fire-side in our little parlor, 
and myself still more comfortably seated on yr knee 
(provided the burden be not too heavy) listening 
attentively while you the 'tale unfold/ and when 'tis 
finished I exclaim with Desdemona, "tis true 'tis 
pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true ;' but the quotation would 
not be applicable to every part of your unfolded tale, 
as the conduct and benevolent attention of yr Physi- 
cian and Mr. Brennan, merits a better reflection ; 
when I think on their goodness to you the words of 
Madame de Genlis always occurs to my mind, 1 Vir- 
tue may be acquired, but goodness is a gift of nature,' 
and nature has been so profuse in that respect to both 
Gentlemen, that if acquired virtue were to step in, she 
would not find a single vacant spot to take possession 
of: what happiness it would give me to return per- 
sonal thanks to these friends in the most literal sense 
of the word, is needless to say, as every friend 
by their efficacious endeavours have contributed to 
the restoration of my D r Papa's health must be dear 
to me. You complain that I am sparing of my 
paper, but really, My Dear Sir, if you were enclosed 
within the walls of a boarding school yrself, you 
would find something to say no easy matter. As for 
news you will see more in a day's paper than I could 
send you in a week; and for writing on any subject 

¥ 2 



that may occur, it is not so easy as you Beaux esprits 
imagine. The muses, like all other ladies, are 
whimsical and inconstant, and it requires no little art 
to keep in their good graces. At one time they will 
preside over every line, at another they will scarcely 
deign to look over y r shoulder: so you may judge of * 
my Muse's temper by the style of my letter. We 
spent two delightful evenings at Mrs. Lynchers of 
Marlborough Street. She is the most hospitable and 
the best natured woman I ever met with. There is a 
very fine grand forte piano, and I am highly gratified 
with my favorite amusement. We are to drink tea 
there to-morrow evening. / should not have visited 
them only I was pretty sure of yr permission, as it 
was y r wish I should go to the Play with them one 
night, and any one you would wish me to appear in 
public with, I am sure you would have no objection 
to in private. I sent Molly to Mr. Dixon's, who 
says there is no one in the world he would so soon 
have as yourself, and that tho' more than one have 
been about them he has kept them for you.* 
You can have a drawing-room and dining-room, and 
bed-chamber on the first-floor, and bed-chamber on the 
second, with kitchen entirely to y r self for 40 guineas 
per year, they are fitted up in a very elegant style, all 
the rooms are new papered and painted, and the hall 
and staircase new oil-clothed, he begs you will write 
to him by return of post as the rooms are damp, and 
would require airing. Let me know for certain when 
we may expect you in. God bless you my D r Papa, 
take care of y r self. 

" S. OwENSON. 

* Owenson, when in Dublin, usually lodged with Mr. Thomas 
Dixon, a hosier, residing at No. 60, Dame Street. In the ' Dub- 
lin Journal/ (May 3rd, 1794), Owenson's benefit is announced, 
" of whom Tickets may be had at Mr. Dixon's, 60, Dame Street." 



"I sent to-day to Mr. Lee's for some music, he 
seemM quite pleased that I did so, and begged I 
would send whenever I wanted any. 

" Mr. Owenson, Theatre, Cork." 

Sam Lee, to whom Sidney Owenson alludes, was 
the leader of the band in Crow Street Theatre, and, as 
John O'Keefe tells us in his " Recollections," the first 
public performer on the violin. He opened a music 
shop on Cork Hill, and a coffee house in Exchange 
Street, both of which were much encouraged and fre- 
quented. He was by turns, witty, proud, resentful, 
and obliging. One evening, when returning to 
Dublin, after meeting some friends at a convivial 
dinner, he interchanged warm words with one of 
them. In consequence of this he refused to walk on 
the same side of the road with his quondam friend : 
in a passion he crossed over to the other side, missed 
his footing, fell down a steep, received some inward 
injuries, and died. 

Were it not for the hospitalities and kind attention 
which Mrs. Lynch of Marlborough Street uniformly 
shewed to our young authoress at this period, the 
contracted sphere of Miss Crowe's Seminary would, 
no doubt, have become at times insupportable. That 
it was not particularly attractive, the following Poem, 
suggested by " a shower which prevented the writer 
returning to school at the expiration of the Christmas 
holydays," shews. 

I ne'er did hail thy orient red, 

Sol, when thou leav'st thy eastern hed, 

And o'er the world thy glories spread, 

and radiant power, 
As when thou'st earth-drawn vapours shed 

in heavy shower ! 


And oft I upward cast mine eyes, 
(Tho' not I ween o'er weather-wise) 
And gladsome view the frowning skies 

while screaming crow 
Proclaims the storm as high he flies, 

to us below ! 

Now glad I hear the wind blow bleak, 
View puss by fire her station take, 
And grandmamma loud moanings make 

of shooting corn ; 
For rain these signs portentous speak, 

and gloomy morn ! 

Glad see I muddled streamlet stray, 
Whose course no sunbeam renders gay, 
Reflecting nought but wat'ry ray, 

and dimpled o'er ; 
While goslings on its surface play, 

before the door 

The clear, pellucid drops I view, 
As large they fall, tho' yet but few, 
And sweet as Californian dew 

'to me appear ; 
Or stream that prophet Moses drew 
From rocky source for murm'ring Jew, 

in desart drear ! 

Now glad I throw straw bonnet by, 
For sure to school I cannot hie, 
While flood Deucalion pours the sky, 

t' arrest my feet ; 
And this excuse I'll plead so sly, 

compulsion sweet. 




Sydney Owenson introduced to the Connaught gentry. — "0 
whistle aud I will be with you my lad." — A Beau for Miss 
Owenson. — Sligo Abbey. — The Post Boy. — "No letters/' — A 
French fleet arrives in Killala Bay. — Defeat of the British 
Army. — Debt, difficulties, and seizure. — Owenson a ruined 
man. — Many sorrows and few friends. r— Sydney Owenson's first 
book. — The subscribers. — Patronized by Lady Moira. — Miss 
Owenson precedes Moore in collecting the melodies of her 
native country. — Becomes a Novelist. — St. Clair, or the Heiress 
of Desmond. — Sligo again. — A pestle and mortar assists in 
composing " St. Clair." — " The Novice of St. Dominick." — 
Dermody's last Interview with Miss Owenson. 

The gentry of Sligo, whenever they succeeded in 
persuading Owenson to spend an evening with them, 
regarded as a compliment his acceptance of their 
invitations. His presence diffused electrical mirth 
around. Give him a bottle of claret, and a jug 
of poteen, and Owenson forgot all his care. He 
was never penurious of his songs, bon mots, stories, 
or sly advice. A wink from him would set the 
table in a roar. His society was courted with 
avidity but the theatre in Water Lane, of which 
he was manager, received scant patronage. 

The Connaught gentry paid Owenson such atten- 
tion that he came to Dublin for little Sydney, and 
brought her down to Sligo. The family of Sir 

* Reminiscences supplied by the late Mr. Gillmor of Sligo 
when in his 91st year. 



Malby Crofton of Colloony, the Everards, the Bar- 
clays, the Coopers, Phibbses, Booths, Ormsbys, and 
Norcots shewed the small girl much kindness and 

The legitimate drama having failed to take, poor 
Owenson endeavoured to fill his theatre by per- 
sonating some very loudly comic characters. u I 
remember," observes an old Sligo lady, " enjoying 
his representation of the Killibesrs Haymaker, with 
suggav.ns (or straw ropes) round his hat, waist, and 
legs, his coat in tatters, and straws sticking out of 
his brougues. I laughed heartily at him, as did his 
two daughters who were in the pit with, I think, 
an uncle of the present Sir Robert Gore Booth, of 
Lisadile, and indeed I thought I would be ashamed 
if my father were so dressed, but they enjoyed it 
greatly. I knew Miss Sydney Owenson well, she 
was a gay vivacious smart young woman ; I re- 
member her dining and spending the evening at 
Mr. Feeney's, a merchant of Sligo ; she came in 
the full dressed fashion of that day, she danced 
gracefully. Being called on for a song, all our ex- 
pectations were that we should hear some new 
French or Italian air, but, to our surprise, she took 
her sw T eet small harp, and played up the air and 
sung the song 'Oh whistle and I will be with 
you my lad/ Mr. Owenson was a very good comic 
actor. I remember having seen the same play acted 
afterwards in Dublin, but not so well as Mr. Owen- 
son did it at Sligo. Miss Owenson spent a great 
deal of her time at the seat of Sir Malby Crofton. 
She often passed me on the road riding a nice pony, 
I thought that she did not sit so straight in her 
saddle as the ladies who accompanied her." Another 
octogenarian of Sligo writes, " I frequently went to 
Owenson's theatre in Water Lane, Knox's Street. 



I remember his daughters in the pit with Mr. Harloe 
Phibbs, who attracted general observation, as a report 
was at that time rife that he was courting Miss 
Sydney Owenson. There were no boxes in Sligo 
Theatre then. Harloe Phibbs was the son of old 
Bloomer Phibbs who went by the name of 1 Smooth 
Acres/ The fashionable improvidence of the day 
led to these acres being encumbered and sold. I 
remember, on the particular night in question, that 
Owenson'' s part was Pan, dressed up in goat skins, 
a very amusing character." The accuracy of Mrs. 

's recollection will be sufficiently attested by 

referring back to pp. 21, 22. 

The records of this period of Sydney Owenson's life 
and of the growth of her mind, are not numerous. 
Among other effusions, however, indicating a thought- 
ful and religious spirit, one, written on a tomb among 
the ruins of Sligo Abbey, merits transcription. — 

And must I, ghastly guest of this dark dwelling, ( 
Pale, senseless tenant, must I come to this ; 

And shall this heart congeal, now warmly swelling, 
To woe's soft languor, rapture's melting bliss. 

And must this pulse that beats to joy's gay measure, 
Throbbing to bloomy health, this pulse lie still ; 

And must each sense alive to guileless pleasure, 
Torpid resist the touch of transports' thrill ? 

And must each sensate feeling too decay, 

(Each feeling anguished by another's sorrow) 

This form that blushes youth and health to-day, 
Lie cold and senseless thus, like thee, to-morrow ? 

Terrific Death ! to shun thy dreaded pow'r 
Who would not brave existence ? direst strife ? 

But that beyond thy dark shade's gloomy bow'r, 
Faith points her vista to eternal life ! 

Miss Owenson, ten years after, in referring to 
Sligo Abbey, and "her days of childhood" writes : 



"An idea of its venerable ruins had insensibly 
associated itself with the remembrance of the lively 
susceptibility I then possessed, to every impression ; 
and that idea still preserving its ascendancy in my 
mind, rendered the object that gave rise to it, an 
object of peculiar interest, and ardent curiosity. I 
have always loved those scenes which connect the plea- 
sures of intellect with those of sense, which are 
equally dear to reflection and to fancy, over which 
the mental sympathies extend themselves, and where 
the heart and the eye repose with equal satisfaction 
and delight; arid as I involved myself amidst the 
ruins of Sligo Abbey, where doubtless many a saint 
and many a hero trod, the beautiful apostrophe of 
Yolney floated on my memory : ' Je vous salue mines 
solitaires ! Oui : tandis que voire aspect repousse 
d'un secret effroi les regards du vulgaire ; mon cceur 
trouve a vous contempler le charme des sentimens 
profonds et des hautes pensees/ w 

"The "Country Post-boy/' a relic of the same re- 
mote era of Sydney's early life, is a pleasing por- 
traiture of a character now almost extinct. The fifth 
verse touchingly alludes to her poor mother who 
had just died. 

Ah ! careless wight, and e'en as careless, gay, 

Slow winding down yon mountain's rugged brow, 

Cheering with ballad blithe thy weary way, 

And as thy thoughtless mule, as thoughtless thou ! 

Ne'er dreaming thou to many art a fate 
Replete with baleful tidings ; big with woe 

To cloud th' illusive beam of hope elate, 

Or blast the germ of love's first ardent blow ! 

To snap the golden, fragile thread of bliss, 

Deface the smiling portrait Fancy drew ; 
Convey the last farewell, the dying kiss, 

And change each tint of joy to mis'ry's hue ! 



To freeze the vital stream that warmly glows 

Within the heart, to filial fears a prey; 
The sad, but long expected task impose, 

To weep the sainted parents swift decay ! 

Ah ! orphan mourner, I can feel for thee, 

For I, like thee, have cause to weep, to sigh; 
Like thine, the parent heaven bestow'd on me, 
/ Fled from her child, to claim her kindred sky ! 

Yet senseless wight, if thou the heart can'st wring, 

And sadder certainty for sad doubt give ; 
"Wealth, title, fame, 'tis also thine to bring, 

And all for which the witless many live ! 

To the sad prisoner liberty convey, 

To modest merit the unask'd award ; 
To dark despair restore hope's vivid day, 

To injured innocence its just reward ! 

To act the herald of each tender thought 
Of love — by lingering absence more refin'd ; 

With sentiment impassioned, glowing, fraught, 
And all th' endearing intercourse of mind I 

The Authoress, with beautiful diffuseness, then 
proceeds to say that " When stillness breathes along 
the silent groves/' she loves to hear the wild tones 
of the Post-boy's horn float on the distance : 

Now stealing faintly with vibration soft, 

Now mingling louder with each passing gale, 

Now 'midst the hills by echo answer'd oft, 
And louder now it rings along the dale ! 

How throbs each pulse, with every varied sound, 

How many ardent expectations burn, 
How does my heart within my bosom bound ? 

And how I fly to meet, yet fear to learn ? 

Yes, 'tis for me — each character I kiss, 

Then trembling, hoping, break the w r ell-known seal 

But why relate its tale of woe or bliss, 

For ah ! like me, who woe or bliss can feel ? 



The neighbourhood in which Sydney Owenson 
was located, possessed many striking natural beauties, 
and pleasing associations, peculiarly calculated to 
promote the growth of a warm poetic temperament. 
In her "Patriotic Sketches/' the authoress paints 
a few of the more prominent features of Sligo. 

" The scenery which environs the town/' she writes, 
"is bold, irregular, and picturesque: and though 
despoiled of those luxurious woods which once (in 
common with the rest of the Island) enriched its 
aspect, it still preserves many of those traits which 
constitute the perfection of landscape ; hanging over 
a beautiful bay formed by the influx of the ' Steep 
Atlantic/ sheltered by lofty mountains, and reposing 
almost at the brow of a hill along whose base the 
Eiver Gitley steals its devious way. The high road 
by which it is approached for the last twenty miles, 
winds through a scene of romantic variety, which 
frequently combines the most cultivated and har- 
monious traits, with the wildest and most abrupt 
images of scenic beauty. The groves, the lakes, the 
enchanting islands, and all the glowing charms of 
an Italian scenery which diffuses itself over the 
picturesque and cultivated scenes of Florence-court, 
are suddenly replaced by a dreary heath, and a bold 
and continued mass of rocks, through which nature, 
time, and art, seem to have cut a deep and narrow 
defile which, entered at that hour sacred to the 
sombre grandeur of the true sublime, awakens in 
the heart of the traveller such a warning as the 
entrance to Dante's Inferno holds out." Miss Owen- 
son also refers, at some length, to the romantic Glen 
of Knock-na-ree, situated within three miles of Sligo, 
and combining the finest ocean scenery, with many 
traits of striking picturesque landscape. Bathed in 
gloom, the overhanging rocks almost knit their tower- 



ing summits. The authoress was much struck by 
the cloud-capped Heights of Benbullen, the Island 
of Innis-murry, celebrated as still containing part 
of the crosier of St. Molaire, the distant view of the 
undulating coast of Ulster, and Sugna-clogh, or 
the Giant/ s Grave, near the town of Sligo. Several 
immense stones are raised in a very curious and 
romantic manner, upon the ends of others, which 
seem pitched, perpendicularly into the earth, and 
give to the eye an idea of Stonehenge. 

The singular water-flight of Glencar did not fail 
to excite Miss Owenson's admiration. Deriving its 
source from the summit of a lofty hill, whose base 
it scarcely reaches, the glittering element is again 
carried perpendicularly back, forming a species of 
water-spout. Its appearance when seen under the 
influence of an unclouded sun, rising like a pillar 
of light, is strikingly beautiful : the least variation 
of the air breaks it into a feathery spray, which 
falls at a considerable distance, like the misty shower 
of a summer's evening, tinged with the departing 
glow of the horizon. But there are other aquatic 
curiosities near Sligo. The steep Hill of the Hawk 
is the first point of land seen on this coast at sea, 
and has long served as a landmark to mariners. 
Notwithstanding the altitude of Knock-na-shong, 
its summit contains a well which ebbs and flows with 
the tide. Of both mountain and well, tradition has 
preserved many miraculous tales. 

Meanwhile the Rebellion of 1798 hurried to a crisis. 
Nothing else was spoken of : the conflict raged in 
Leinster, with frightful fury ; Connaught, although 
shaken by excitement, had hitherto remained inactive. 
At last, on August 22nd. 1798, three French frigates 
under General Humbert, with twelve hundred men 
on board, entered Killala Bay, in the province of 



Connaught, captured the town, took the Protestant 
bishop prisoner, unfurled a banner on which was 
inscribed "Erin go Bragh," invoked the peasantry to 
flock beneath it : distributed arms and ammunition, 
marched through the almost impassible defile 
of Barnageeragh, and surprised Castlebar ! Lord 
Hutchinson with a tolerably numerous force, and a 
good train of artillery commanded the British 
Garrison. General, afterwards Lord Lake, had just 
arrived with a large reinforcement. On receiving 
information of the advance of Humbert, the English 
Generals beat to arms and took up position, with 
nine pieces of cannon, on a rising ground which 
seemed almost impregnable. As soon as the French 
column appeared, the British ordnance was brought 
to play upon it with apparent effect. Humbert, 
however, by a series of ingenious and irregular 
movements, speedily attained an advantage ; the 
British line wavered, the cannon was abandoned to 
the enemy, and in a few moments the entire of the 
Royal army was flying like a mob ! When the French 
captured the large town of Castlebar, the officers, in 
the true Gallic spirit, advertised a ball and supper 
that night. Numbers of ladies attended it ; " decorum" 
writes Sir Jonah Barrington, " was strictly preserved. 
They paid ready money for everything/'' This joyous 
and chivalrous spirit, seems, indeed, surprising when 
the exhausted condition of the men is taken into 
account. "Their complexions," writes the Bishop 
of Killala, " were pale, their clothes much the worse 
for wear, they appeared incapable of enduring any 
hardship, and these were the men, however, of whom 
it was presently observed, that they could be well 
content to live on bread and water, and to make the 
stones of the street their bed. They had served in 
Italy under Buonaparte, and were of the army of the 



Rhine. Several of them declared that at the Siege 
of Metz, they had slept on the ground in holes four 
feet deep under the snow, and an officer pointing to 
his leather small-clothes said "that he had not taken 
them off for a twelvemonth." 

Several thousand of the Connaught peasantry and 
some of the gentry joined Humbert.* The sequel 
of this interesting historic incident is well known. 

It may well be supposed that in the midst of this 
excitement and debris, Owenson's Thespian place 
and plans came to the ground. Miss O — , formerly of 
Sligo tells us that a few weeks previous to the battle 
of Castlebar, she well recollects " Owenson's stage 
scenery, dresses and decorations all under seizure 
by the landlord, for rent due by Owenson on 

* General Humbert's address to the Irish people is an historic 
curiosity, and of some interest at the present moment. 

"Irishmen — You have not forgot Bantry Bay. You know what 
efforts France has made to assist you. Her affections for you, her 
desire for avenging your wrongs and insuring your independence, 
can never be impaired. After several unsuccessful attempts, be- 
hold Frenchmen arrived amongst you. They come to support 
your courage, to share your dangers, to join their arms, and to 
mix their blood with yours in the sacred cause of liberty. Brave 
Irishmen, our cause is common; like you, we abhor the avaricious 
and blood-thirsty policy of an oppressive government ; the peace 
of the world shall ever be troubled, as long as the British minis- 
try is suffered to make, with impunity, a traffic of the industry, 
labour, and blood of the people. We swear the most inviolable 
respect for your properties, your laws, and all your religious opi- 
nions. Be free ; be masters in your own country. We look for 
no other conqnest than that of your liberty — no other success 
than yours. The moment of breaking your chains is arrived: 
our triumphant troops are now flying to the extremities of the 
earth, to tear up the roots of the wealth and tyranny of our 
enemies. Irishmen, recollect the late defeats which your ene- 
mies have experienced from the French ; recollect the plains of 
Honscoote, Toulon, Quiberon, and Ostend ; recollect America, 
free from the moment she wished to be so. Union ! liberty ! the 
Irish republic ! — such is our shout, let us march — our hearts are 
devoted to you ; our glory is in your happiness." 



the theatre, and that it was only after some con- 
siderable delay the property was released, and the 
debt liquidated by the then most eminent merchant of 
Sligo, Ignatius Everard, father of the distinguished 
barrister, Richard Everard, Esq, well known by the 
sobriquet of " Dicky Demurrer." But this act of 
kindness merely staved off temporarily the evil day. 
Difficulties soon pressed, in bewildering succession, 
upon our player. His family, for a time, felt the 
cold grip of penury ; and were it not for the steadfast 
friendship of half a dozen sincere hearts, which 
sparkled, few-and-far-between, amid the dense and 
almost endless ranks of Owen son's professed friends 
and admirers, grim hunger and bitter sorrow might 
have weighed them down. 

Nor were the few trne friends to whom we have 
alluded any of the men "with handles to their 
names/' who, in days gone by, were wont to invite 
Owenson, as a dramatic lion and convivialist, to 
their table. " His last friend/' says Sir Jonah 
Barrington, u was old Fontaine,* a celebrated French 
dancing master, many years domiciliated and esteemed 
in Dublin. He aided Owenson and his family while 
he had the means to do so, and they both died nearly 
at the same time— instances of talent and improvi- 

In 1798, Owenson, in bad health, and worse 
spirits, retired from the stage. " He was at that 
time," writes Sir Jonah, " highly celebrated in the 
line of Irish characters, and never did an actor exist 
so perfectly calculated, in my opinion, to personify 
that singular class of people. Considerably above 
six feet in height ; — remarkably handsome and brave- 
looking,— vigorous and well-shaped, — he was not 

* " John Fontaine, dancing master, 43, Townsend-street," ap- 
pears in the Dublin Directories, until 1803. W. J. F. 



vulgar enough to disgust, nor was he genteel enough 
to be out of character : never did I see any actor so 
entirely identify himself with the peculiarities of 
those Irish parts he assumed. In the higher class 
of Irish characters (old officers, &c.) he looked well, 
but did not exhibit sufficient formal dignity : and in 
the lowest, his humour was scarcely quaint and 
original enough ; but in what might be termed the 
'middle class of Paddies/ no man ever combined the 
look and manner with such felicity as Owenson. 
Scientific singing was not an Irish quality ; and he 
sang well enough. I have heard Mr. Jack Johnston 
warble so very skilfully, and act some parts so very 
like a man of education, that I almost forgot the 
nation he was mimicking: that was not the case 
with Owenson ; he acted as if he had not received 
too much schooling." 

In 1798, as we have said, Owenson retired from 
the stage. Jack Johnston, originally a common 
soldier, had just made his debut, under Macklin's 
auspices, as an unrivalled delineator of the Irish 
character. Ovvenson's " occupation" was, from this 
moment, "gone," and a hopeless prospect lay on 
every side before him. The sensitive heart, and far 
seeing eye of his eldest daughter, became sadly and 
fully aware of the inevitable result. There is one 
little poem addressed to sleep, and written at this 
period, which it is not easy to read with dry eyes. 
It was thrown off during one of the many hours of 
bitter sorrow, which clouded the brow of the ruined 
player and his devoted daughter. Poor Sydney 
longed for sleep to drown her care. Though essen- 
tially different in versification, this poem is, in 
style and sentiment, hardly inferior to Shakspeare's 
celebrated address to the same solacing restor- 
ative : — 




Shroud in thy downy and oblivious veil, 

The woes that still defer thy gentle reign, 
And o'er ray wearied senses softly steal, 

The welcome bondage of thy unfelt chain ! 

Wrap in forgetfulness my care-worn mind, 

Give to oblivion my prophetic fears : 
My raem'ry in thy magic thraldom bind, 

Steal this sad sigh, and check these flowing tears. 

come ! and let imagination beam 

O'er ray soft slumbers her enchanting ray, 

Shed her bright influence in some golden dream, 
And hover round me with illusions gay ! 

Invoke the mimic Fancy to thy aid, 

And all her frolic and aerial train, 
With rosy visions cheer thy votarist maid, 

And with sweet treach'ry steal her bosom's pain ! 

Each fond affection in my heart revive, 

(By sorrow's torpid touch long lull'd to rest ;) 

Once to each thrilling tone of joy alive, 

But dormant now within my joyless breast ! 

Thus come delightful and delusive sleep, 

Thus o'er my wither'd spirits claim thy power ; 

In thy sweet balm my anguish'd feelings steep, 
For years of suff'rings grant one blissful hour ! 

The ode "To a Tear" is also sadly suggestive : — 

Ah ! when thou steal'st down pallid cheek, 
Of poor affliction, sad and meek, 

heart-easing tear: 
Then like the glowing shower, mild, ^ 
That oft succeeds the storm wild, 

thou dost appear ! 

Deprived, by death, of the companionship of a fond 
wife, and freed, by poverty, from the attentions of 
many friends, Owenson now looked to his loving 
daughters for solace and sincerity. In 1799 Sydney 
bade adieu to the picturesque and soul-inspiring 



haunts with which Sligo abounded. TTithinthe um- 
brageous seclusion of a little bower, planned with 
her own head, and planted by her own hand, she 
composed an elaborate farewell ode, from which we 
cull a few closing couplets : — 

lso more shall now rny steps intrude 

Amidst thy dreary solitude ; 

And thou my dear and lonely cell, 

From whence I bade these scenes farewell, 

The hand that did thy honours raise, 

Would fain perpetuate thy praise ; 

For well, dear cell, has thou repaid 

My labours with thy friendly shade ; 

Oft from th' unmeaning crowd I'd fly, 

From fashion's vapid circle rue, 

And beneath thy umbrage sought 

The luxury of pensive thought, 

Or view'd the moon's pale quivering ray, 

Thro' thy woodbine portal play, 

Or at the long expected hour, 

Have flown to thee, dear conscious bower : 

To catch (on some kind zephyr borne) 

The welcome sound of post-boy's horn ! 

Impatient thro' thy foliage glance, 

Impatient chid his slow advance; 

Hear the dread " No," to my demand, 

Yet fix'd remain, with out-streteh'd hand, 

With beating heart and eager eyes, 

'Till hope in disappointment dies : 

Or haply snatch th' expected bliss, 

Print on each character a kiss ; 

Still on each tender sentence dwell, 

While on each line a fond tear fell, 

In which the fonder father prov'd, 

How well his absent child was lov'd ! 

How true, how sweetly he could blend 

In one, the sire, preceptor, friend. 

* * * * 

From listless solitude I fly 
To meet the fond expectant eye ; 
Melt in a parent's warm embrace, 
And in each fond endearment trace 
The welcome of the throbbing heart, 
Soft murmuring " Xo more we part." 

Gr 2 



Under the difficulties which resulted from her 
father's misfortunes, the subject of this memoir 
made her first literary essay in print. As Lady 
Morgan has herself acknowledged, in the Preface to 
u France/' the world has been indebted to Necessity 
— that great parent of exertion — for the feast of 
pleasure which her writings have enabled it to taste. 

In March, 1801, Sydney Owenson placed in the 
inky fingers of Mr. A. Stewart, Printer, 86, Bride- 
street, Dublin, the manuscript of a little volume of 
poems, juvenile and otherwise. " The verse in this 
book/' observes one of the first, as well as one of 
the most fastidious of recent critics, " written before 
Byron had brought into existence the fresh rhythm 
and feelings of modern verse — is wondrously good 
of its kind — the time considered, and the preparations 
of its writer taken into account." This volume, 
the tiny book of a tiny author, was tolerably credit- 
able to Mr. Stewart's press, if we except a few such 
awkward typographical oversights as " flutterer/' for 
"flatterer," (p. 119); and wearied eyes, "half 
dozing/' instead of "half closing on vacancy," 
(p. 29). Miss Owenson's means were too much 
pinched to enable her to cancel such leaves as con- 
tained matter which might, she thought, be altered 
for the better ; and we find various passages in the 
printed copy, neatly modified in her own autograph. 
In the Hawthorne Tree, for instance, an obliterating 
line is lightly drawn through. 

" Nor olive by the ancients said 
Was sacred to the blue-ey'd maid !" 


" Nor Minerva's olive flower 

Sacred to wisdom's heavenly power !" 

is substituted by the authoress. The great patroness 



of literature in Ireland, at the close of the last, and • 
the beginning of the present century, was Elizabeth, 
Countess of Moira ; and to this high and accomplished 
lady little Sydney was graciously permitted to in- 
scribe her maiden literary effort. " In sanctioning 
by your patronage," wrote Miss Owenson, " those 
little poetic sketches, you have conferred an honor 
on their author of which she is infinitely more sensi- 
ble than capable of expressing the gratitude it has 

The Countess, though thoroughly English, by 
birth and descent, was filled by a hearty Irish na- 
tionality of feeling, from which too many members 
of the Peerage of Ireland have been invulnerably 
exempt. The daughter of Theophilus, Lord of 
Huntingdon and sole heir of her brother, on whose 
death, in 1789, she succeeded to the Hastings 
Peerage, in her own right, this illustrious lady be- 
came the third wife of the humane Earl of Moira. Her 
generous conduct in sheltering Lord and Lady Edward 
Eitzgerald, at the stormy period of 1798, as well 
as the uniform philanthropy and patriotism of her 
life, will long be remembered with gratitude in 
Ireland. Lady Moira died in 1808. Her once gor- 
geous residence, on Usher's Island, Dublin, is now 
the Mendicity Institution. 

Mr., afterwards, Sir E, Philips, of St. Paul's 
Church-yard, undertook to conduct the publication 
and agency of Miss Owenson's book in London ; but 
being the work of an utterly unknown author, it 
was deemed advisable to secure in advance, as many 
subscribers as possible. An alphabetical list was 
accordingly prefixed to the little volume, and it is 
interesting at this distance of time, to glance over it. 
The first name is that of Joseph Atkinson, M.R.I. A., 
an Irish poet, who, although famous enough at one 



period, is probably better known now as the early 
friend of Dorothea Jordan, and Thomas Moore, who 
has celebrated' his many social qualities in a poem 
to his memory. Burke Bethal, Barrister-at-Lav/, 
also figures — a man whose witty and convivial pro- 
pensities have been quenched by death within the 
last few years only. In the C. division, we have 
Dr. Young, Lord Bishop of Clonfert, Sir Malby 
Crofton, Bart., and Abraham Colles, M.D. Of the 
first, we may observe that the discovery of a principle 
in natural philosophy which he applied to gunnery, 
introduced him to the notice of the military viceroy, 
Lord Cornwallis, and in 1798, he was presented by 
his Excellency with the See of Clonfert. Sir Malby 
Crofton, of whom we have already spoken, was said 
to have been a relation of Owenson's, and proved 
himself a dear friend through life to the interests of 
his daughter. The death of Dr. Abraham Colles in 
1843, was an irreparable blow to suffering humanity ; 
and caused a blank in the ranks of the medical pro- 
fesion, which may not be for many years filled up. 
Among the other subscribers, were John Foster, last 
Speaker of the Irish House of Commons; Lord 
Granard, whose saturnine portrait Sir Jonah Bar- 
rington, introduces in his work on the Union ; the 
Countess of Granard, the accomplished daughter of 
Lady Moira, Sir Duke and Lady Giffard ; the patriot 
Duke of Leinster ; the Countess of Moira ; Sir 
Robert Lauder ; Colonel King, M.P., afterwards 
Lord Lorton, who w r as tried for complicity in the 
murder of Colonel Fitzgerald, the base seducer of 
the beautiful Miss King; Thomas Moore, the poet 
of all circles — the idol of his own ; Councillor 
M'Nally, who received a secret stipend from the 
Crown for betraying the professional secrets of the 
United Irishmen; Mrs. O'Beirne, of Ardbraccan 



Palace, the wife of Louis, Lord Bishop of Meath, 
originally a Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical student ; 
the Rev. Mr. O'Beirne, P.P. of Longford, the 
Protestant prelate's brother; Captain, afterwards the 
Right Hon. William Saurin, whose tedious political 
regime in Ireland was a national calamity, and the 
Rev. Dr. Millar, the subsequently celebrated author 
of the Philosophy of History. Many more names 
appear on record, but those we have enumerated are 
the only ones which at this distance of time, are 

The modest Preface of Sydney Ow T enson to her 
first-born book is pleasant to read, and repays the 
labour of transcription. The Preface is dated from 
"Dominick Street, Dublin." She wrote it when on a 
visit with Mrs. Lefanu, who resided at number 45 
in that street. In her last introduction to "The Wild 
Irish Girl/' Lady Morgan speaks of Mrs. Lefanu, the 
accomplished sister of Pl. B. Sheridan, as her earliest 
and dearest friend." The most literary house then 
open in Dublin was that of Mrs. Lefanu. She was 
not only literary in taste but also in talent. Prom a 
paper of the day we cull the following impromptu on 
a sparkling comedy of which Mrs. Lefanu was the 

Dame Comedy so dull had grown, 
She made the town in sadness moan, 
Now to her native spirit true, 
She treats us with a laugh anew. 

But Mrs. Lefanu could also draw forth tears by her 
tragic powers. Moore reminds us that in 1790 she 
used to perform the part of Jane Shore at Lady 
Burrowe's Private theatre. The small Irish girl 
" her harp and howl," received some kind acts of 
attention and appreciation from Mrs. Lefanu. Her 


maiden preface, which began as follows, was dated, 
as we have said, from this lady's house. 

" The mind of a young author, on the eve of ex- 
m posing to the gaze of the public scrutiny, the 
cherished offspring of its solicitude, f with all its 
imperfections on its head/ seeks to strengthen its 
hopes and tranquillize its apprehensions, by adopting 
every idea which leads to the belief, that the errors 
of youth will meet with that indulgence in a literary 
sense, which in a moral one it never fails to obtain — 
and if there is indeed 6 in youth a prone and speech- 
less dialect such as moves men/ on this principle, at 
least, the author of this little volume may rest her 
claim to toleration. The fugitive trifles it contains, 
best evince in themselves the period in which they 
were written ; many of them a young ' imagination 
bodied forth' in those truant hours which childhood 
loves to steal from enforced avocation, and many of 
them were the effusions of an heart newly awakened 
to happiness, or seeking to lose its little sorrows 
amidst the playful imagery of fancy's creation, 
faithful transcripts from local and interesting ori- 
ginals, they were composed under the influence of 
the feelings ; and their author writing what she 
thought, rather than thinking what she should write, 
realized with rapidity the ' idle visions of her brain/ 
or veiled beneath the fantastic drapery of poetic 
decoration the natural simplicity of those sentiments, 
which her heart owned, and her understanding ra- 

The reader has a right to expect that we should 
lay some extracts from this little book before him. Of 
these there are, in truth, no dearth. Every imagin- 
able object and situation seems to have formed the 
fair poetess's theme at various times ; but we prefer 
to select such pieces as furnish an insight into Miss 



Owenson's mode of life at the remote epoch in ques- 
tion. Not a few of her poems are entitled to the 
rank of autobiographical fragments. There is an 
unmistakeable air of truthfulness about them; and 
the cautious reader need not fear that Sidney had 
much need to indulge in Poets'-license. 

In a piece, addressed " To Myself/' an effort to 
cast off care is traceable. The authoress urges her 
active mind to retravel the scenes of happier bygone 

Ah ! little maid, how blest the day, 
"When with the frolic hours, you gay 

and careless rov'd 
Thro' life, from woe, from trouble free, 
Nor thought you e'er could parted be, 

from those you lov'd ! 

Thine was the blest propensity, 

To make that world a heaven to thee, 

in which you mov'd 
Nor knew the cause that made thee blest, 
That joy'd thy heart and warm'd thy breast, 

was those you lov'd ! 


No thought of ill did ever scare, 
Thy happy heart devoid of care. 

No woe thy bosom did invade, 

Save those thine own compassion made, 

by pity mov'd; 
You wept, — yet ne'er did sorrow know, 
But taught to weep for other's woe. 

by those you lov'd ! 

And while the tear stood in thine eye, 
Or on thy cheek would trembling lie, 

it often prov'd ; 
That smiles irradiated thy face, 
As in the eyes you'd rapture trace, 

of those you lov'd. 



The gloomy art thou ne'er did'st know, 
Of conjuring up ideal woe, 

but sportive rov'd ; 
Thro* Fancy's brightest, gayest scene, 
For happy wer't thou then I ween, 

with those you lov'd ! 

Gay was thy prattle, gay thy smiles, 
Thy infant sports, thy infant wiles, 

still unreprov'd ; 

By age or chill severity, 

Nor frowns repelling e'er did see, 

from those you lov'd ! 

Full many were thy childish ways, 
To charm the dear parental gaze ; 

fondly approv'd 
Was each faint effort of thy mind, 
While to thy little failings blind 

were those you lov'd ! 

Ah ! little maid, how blest the day, 
When with the sportive hours, you gay 

and careless rov'd 
Thro' life ! — alas ! that day is o'er, 
Since, little maid, art thou no more 

with those you loved ! 

The experience of heavy affliction does not seem to 
have rendered the breast of Sydney Owenson callous 
to trifling trials. We now find her tender heart 
bemoaning the death of her favourite lap-dog, "Bell/' 
which for " seven long years" was the constant com- 
panion of our little authoress. The introductory 
verse to eight succeeding stanzas, will probably be 
considered sufficient as a specimen : — 

Since then thy life's " poor play is o'er," 
And thou cans't live to charm no more 

who charmed so well ; 
Let me whose hours you oft beguiled, 
Who at thy sportive ways oft smiled, 

thy virtues tell. 



The virtues and beauties of " a Thrush which sung 
every evening under the author's windows, during a 
summer residence in the country/' are also cordially 
recognized and eulogised. 

Miss Owenson's little volume of poems lay for a 
time unnoticed and unbought ; but the influence of 
the Countess of Moira at length prevailed, and innu- 
merable persons purchased it in obsequious obe- 
dience to her ladyship's earnestly expressed suggestion. 
Once tested, the genuineness of the gems became 
apparent ; their value daily rose in critical estima- 
tion ; it became fashionable to praise them. They 
furnished many a languishing boudoir and drawing- 
room conversation with a theme which seldom failed 
to stimulate ; in the pauses of the Spanish dance, or 
the Minuet de la Cour, they were referred to with 
other topics of ton. At last the elite of Dublin ex- 
pressed a desire to view the casket from whence such 
pretty pearls came ; and Sydney Ow r enson was forth- 
with installed on a little throne, in the centre of the 
brightest society of the metropolis. Her wit and 
vivacity, the nerve with which she swept the strings 
of her harp, and the exquisite modulations of her 
voice, in accompaniment, charmed widely, and bound 
captive many a heart long wrapped in apathy. Local 
critics began to recognize " a considerable share of 
the poetic faculty" in the authoress's volume ; she 
had talents of no mean order. Her fancy was grace- 
ful, and her verse flowing and harmonious. They 
had great hopes of the young poet, and augured a 
second edition for her volume. 

Pluent and flowing as was Sydney's pen and 
thought, we find that her muse did not always prove 
as obedient as might be desired. The capricious 
lady— -we mean the muse, not Miss Owenson — was 
at last addressed in the following strain of semi- 



petulance, on the occasion of our authoress making a 
vain effort to write on a given subject : — 

I swear it by Parnassus mount, 
By Hippocranes' inspiring fount; 
By Waters of Acidalus, 
By sacred streams of lllysus ; 
By Helicon, — Castalian rill, 
By Agannippe, — Pindus' hill ; 
Apollo's laurel, and his lyre, 
Melpom'ne's tears, — Thalia's fire! 
By wise Minerva's sagest owl, 
By Royal Juno's sacred fowl ; 
By Ida's love-inspiring air, 
Nay, by thy ingrate self I swear ; 
Ne'er from this moment to implore 
Thy aid or inspiration more ; 
Nor sacrifice my youth's short day, 
In begging a poetic lay ; 
Or wit to scribble song or sonnet, 
When I should trim a cap or bonnet ; 
Entreat a spark of attic fire, 
To animate my languid lyre, 
When I as in my sex befitting, 
Should take my work or mind my knitting ! 
For thee what have I not endured, 
To scoffs, and taunts, and sneers inur'd; 
By misses for thy favours maul'd, 
By masters " learned lady " called ! 
By all avoided, lest my bite 
Should set the simple things to write ; 
Whilst thou malignant more than they, 
Hath some eccentric notion gay 
Shot 'thwart my fancy — nay, I swear, 
" E'en in the sacred house of prayer, 
I gladly seize it, thoughtless wight, \ 
Forgot I came to pray, not write, 
And in my prayer-book self indite ! * 
While from my lips unconscious fall, 
Nor sainted Peter, James, nor Paul ; 
But mount Parnassus, muses, fire, 
Apollo, wit, Ionian choir ; 
Invoke no canonized maid, 
But Yorick's or Cervantes shade ! 
Quick shrinks each pious soul away, 
While sacred horror and dismay, 


Each eye devout as quick invade, 

Cast on the sacrilegious maid ; 

And tho' she prayed with might and main, 

Alas ! she finds contrition vain ; 

Nor credit gains from pious dame, 

That you, sad Muse, not she's to blame ; 

Nor is this all, for oft with spleen 

Thou'st darted on me, when I've been 

In solemn convocation seated 

'Midst female sages, who grave treated 

On sermons, prudence, faith, and prayer, 

Salves, conserves, silks, and china-ware ! 

Now flirting girls frail conduct chiding, 

And now the price of lace deciding ; 

Now giving script'ral expositions, 

Now quoting tradesmen's impositions ! 

Now on blest charity declaim, 

And now traduce a neighbour's fame ; 

While as I solemn, prim, demure, 

List' with attention to be sure, 

Pop come you with poetic freak, 

And on my prim attention break ; 

Breathe fire thro' the torbid creature, 

And animate each cold fixed feature ! 

I start, look up, then seize a pen, 

Write, smile, gaze round, and write again ; 

Then realize the golden thought, 

And with enthusiasm fraught, 

" Io Triumphe — there's a line 

Will speak me favoured by the Nine J" 

With look ecstatic, I exclaim, 

And strike amazed each frigid dame ; 

O'erwhelmed with fear and consternation, 

Straight they convene a consultation ; 

Of grandmamas and spinster cousins, 

Step-sisters, maiden aunts in dozens ; 

With broken sentence, nod, and leer, 

" Where more is meant than meets the ear ;" 

In whispers they converse and shew it, 

The poor thing's mad, or worse, turn'd poet ;" 

Then vow they'd pardon any crime, 

In their own girls, but love of rhyme, 

Which should it epidemic prove, 

Might well affect all those they love ; 

And spreading quick the cautioning rumour, 

To exile from their presence doom her ! 

Yet all these evils I sustain'd, 



Of persecution ne'er complain'd, 
As long as thou wouldst kindly pay 
A visit in a friendly way. 

In this strain our little Poetess proceeds to re- 
proach her muse with a tendency to unamiable deser- 
tion. She reminds her of the hours without number 
which were snatched from refreshing midnight 
slumber, and fervently devoted to her sake and 
service. She speaks of the youthful joys, "toilette, 
trinkets, dress, and toys— the dear short-lived teens 
best treasure," — all sacrificed for the muse's sake. 
"And yet," she adds — 

*' You all these services forget, 
Reject my incense, and despise 
The votive offrings I devise ; 
On my best invocation frown, 
Nor with success one effort crown." 

Sydney concludes in a strain of assumed petulance, 

" book, paper, ink, and pen, 

Until ! — thou smil'st on me again." 

It was often at the most unseasonable moments 
that the muse would turn caressingly to Sydney. 
Sometimes when in bed at night, wrapt in darkness, 
thought, and blankets, a gush of inspiration would 
saturate the little Poet's brain. She often drew 
down the vengeful indignation of the elder female 
members of the household, who could not at all 
understand why " Miss Siddy, instead of lying tran- 
quilly on her pillow, would suddenly begin mouching 
about the house, and fumbling at the well-slacked 
kitchen fire," with a dripping tallow candle which 
refused to light. Sometimes, Sydney, rather than 
disturb the sleeping household, would scrawl hasty 



hieroglyphic mems upon a big school slate which 
lay, awaiting the moment of inspiration, at her bed- 
side. At other times, w r hen out walking, she would 
suddenly desert her companions, and seeking a se- 
cluded green field dotted with lambs, would there, 
in pastoral peace and purity, woo her muse. 

It was not only by the volume of poems already 
spoken of, that Sydney Owenson proved herself the 
inheritress of her father's idiosyncrasies and talents. 
We now find her arranging to English words, twelve 
of the most beautiful and touching melodies, in the 
vernacular of her native land, and filially dedicating 
the work to Robert Owenson. Prefixed to this very 
beautiful collection is an Historical Preface, written 
with eloquence and erudition, in which she attributes 
the patriotic tone which pervades her writings, to 
the national enthusiasm which at an early age she 
imbibed from her father. 

Some persons may require to be reminded that to 
Miss Owenson we are indebted for the charming 
Irish ballad of " Kate Kearney/' It first appeared 
anonymously as the " Beardless Boy and at once 
became popular. That Miss Owenson would have 
followed up the series there can be no doubt, had 
not Moore, Stevenson, Bunting, Lover and Holden 
grasped with avidity at the happy idea of which sho 
was the parent. Although Bunting, as far back as 
1796, gave substantial indications of a tendency to 
preserve our national airs, it was not until 1840, that 
we find him publishing that great body of Melody, 
entitled " The Ancient Music of Ireland/' with which 
his name will be for ever bound. Miss Owenson 
may be said to have been the original starter of that 
happy thought for which Moore has almost always 
received the exclusive credit. But in the Preface to 
the first edition of Ins Melodies, he had too much 



honour not to avow that her, u patriotic genius had 
been employed on some of our finest airs." 

There was a regular scramble for this rich 
and profitable idea. Nor was the emulative 
race confined to native aspirants. From England 
and Scotland came Colman and Campbell, who 
bore off in triumph Savourneen Deelish, and 
" The Exile of Erin." Lover found some which 
Moore had failed to find — among others, "The Angel's 
Whisper," and " Rory O'More." But rich as was 
the harvest which these personages reaped in 
the field of Irish music, we find, from the recent and 
successful labours of Dr. Petrie, that those indus- 
triously disposed can still glean with profit in the 
same field. 

Miss Owen son proved herself a real Poetess in this 
volume of Irish Melodies. A vivid fancy, with an 
imagination rich, natural and warm, sparkled and 
glowed in every page. Take, for example : — 

Oh tell me sweet Kate, by what magical art 

You seduced ev'ry thought, ev'ry wish of my soul ? 

Oh tell how my credulous, fond, doating heart, 

By thy wiles and thy charms from my bosom was stole. 

Oh whence, dangerous girl, was thy sorcery, tell, 

By which you awak'ned love's tear, and love's sigh ; — 

In thy voice, in thy song, lurks the dangerous spell? 
In the blush of thy cheek, or the beam of thy eye ? 

Her intense perception of the beautiful in nature 
is displayed in the illustrations of the following 
little Ballad : 

My love's the fairest creature, 

And round her flutters many a charm, 
Her starry eyes, blue beaming, 

Can e'en the coldest bosom warm : 
Her lip is like a cherry, 

Ripely sueing to be cull'd; 
Her cheek is like a May rose 

In dewy freshness newly puU'd. 



Her sigh is like the sweet gale, 

That dies upon the violet's breast, 
Her hair is like the dark mist, 

On which the evening sunbeams rest : 
Her smile is like the false light 

Which lures the traveller by its beam; 
Her voice is like the soft strain. 

Which steals its soul from passion's dream. 

u Owenson," says the c Freeman's Journal' of 
May 28th, 1812, in recording his death, ''Owenson 
was the best Irish scholar or his day, and we may 
perhaps say, the last true Irish musician/' These 
acquirements and intellectual tendencips have been 
.perpetuated hereditarily. One well informed on 
the subject, writes : u The parodies of Lady Clarke, m 
the Irish vernacular set by Sir John Stevenson, long 
formed the delices of musical society in Dublin, 
which the author of these lines remembers to have 
heard her sing with infinite grace and humour." 
This striking hereditary musical taste has been 
further instanced by Lady Clarke's daughter, Mrs. 
Edward Geale, assisting the Marchioness of Down- 
shire "in forming an Irish Academy of Music. 

The critical plaudits to which we have elsewhere 
alluded, nerved the tiny girl to renewed exertion. 
Mrs. RadclihVs vigour, as a novelist, had begun to 
flag painfully. Miss Porter's ">Tiiaddeus of Warsaw," 
and "The Scottish Chiefs" did not appear for some 
years later. Miss Edgeworth's debut, as a novelist, 
had not yet taken place. Clara Heeve, and Miss 
Burney were used up. Female romance-writers 
were few ; and it seemed to Sydney Owenson that a 
favorable open lay before her. In ISO Z appeared 
"St. Clair, or, the Heiress of Desmond, a novel, in two 
volumes, by Miss Owenson." Every chapter bears, 
more or less, trace of a tyro's hand ; but the book, 
nevertheless, possesses, in many passages, a hearty 




raciness of style, which cheers like the freshness of 

" St. Clair/' however deficient in vigour of style, 
and objectionable in some points, is not entitled 
to absolute condemnation, insomuch as it seems to 
have been undertaken with the motive of writing 
down a romantic idea, then prevalent among the 
admirers of Continental Literature, namely — that the 
passion of Platonic love might subsist between the 
sexes without any approach to amatory affection. 
In order to shew the fatal effects of this romantic 
notion, St. Clair is drawn with all the sensibility of 
soul and refinement of sentiment with which the 
Trench and German authors of that day loved to 
invest their heroes. He is engaged by LoidL — to 
superintend the education of his children, and having 
proceeded to his lordship's seat in Connaught, St. 
Clair meets, for the first time, Olivia, the heroine of 
the tale, who resides with her grandfather, Sir 
Patrick Desmond, and is betrothed to his relation 
Colonel L— . Olivia and St. Clair on further acquain- 
tance, discover in each other a congeniality of taste, 
and reciprocity of sentiment. They commence a 
correspondence, and while they imagine they indulge 
a Platonic passion only, gradually acquire a real one. 
In the meantime, Colonel L — arrives to claim his 
bride. Preparations are begun for the nuptials ; 
the bride's dress is made, but while these and other 
matrimonial arrangements are in progress, Olivia 
and St. Clair meet in a summer house, for the pur- 
pose of taking an eternal farewell. The Colonel 
surprises them there in each other's arms, and 
forces St. Clair to fight, who expiates his sorrows 
with his life. Olivia, whose character is damaged, 
falls a prey to pulmonary consumption, and the 



novel concludes with an impressive letter in which 
she confesses her errors and explains their cause. 

In the topographically descriptive portions of" St. 
Clair/' Miss Owenson embodied much of her Con- 
naught experience. An old Sligo lady, in a letter 
before us, observes. u My brother who was serving 
his time with Doctor Henry of Market Street, Sligo, 
was a great play going young man, and well ac- 
quainted with Mr. Owenson. Being a ready 
writer, and having a good deal of idle hours in 
the doctor's shop, Mr. Owenson got him to 
copy Miss Sydney's first novel for the press, 
which was illegibly scribbled, and in unconnected 
scraps. She commenced the work in Dublin, and 
finished it in Sligo. I remember hearing her say 
that, when writing ' St. Clair/ she often regretted 
seeing the ladies walking out, and in gay conversation, 
while she was obliged to stay at home and toil. She 
thought once or twice of abandoning it for ever, but 
her father encouraged her to persevere, and by his 
encouragement she completed it." 

Important after events often hinge on early 
trifles. Had not the apothecary's boy alleviated 
Miss Owenson' s drudgery by transcribing and con- 
necting the illegible manuscripts of her first no.vel, 
it is probable that in a moment of girlish fatigue or 
impatience, she would have abandoned such laborious 
literature for ever. 

Greatly to the apothecary's chagrin, who found in 
" St. Clair" a much more agreeable " subject" than 
he was wont to handle — Miss Owenson found her- 
self competent to construct her second novel without 
the aid of the pestle and mortar. " The Novice of 
St. Dominick," appeared in 1804. Its style is fresh 
and buoyant almost to puerillity, and the work con- 
tains many views to which we do not subscribe, but 

h 2 



the character of De Sorville helps to redeem some of 
the imperfections of the tale. The morality of bis 
precepts, the persuasive eloquence of his arguments, 
and the noble generosity of his character, command 
respect. The too obvious effort, however, in the 
third and fourth volumes, to spin out the tale to the 
utmost possible length, spoils the gout which its 
perusal might otherwise produce. These works were 
far from being favorites with Lady Morgan when 
time had matured her judgment and style ; and al- 
though bearing unmistakeable evidence of a want of 
knowledge of the world, together with great impro- 
bability of plot, we find, on consulting some contem- 
porary criticisms, that "St. Clair" and the "Novice" 
were two very popular productions. The society of our 
authoress continued to be courted with avidity by 
fashionable circles — a further proof of her increasing 
prestige and success. 

Through Lord Moira's influence, the peasant-poet 
Dermody, whom Owenson had so humanely be- 
friended, received in 18U2, a commission in the 
army. But Dermody became a prey to disease, and 
died soon after. Shortly before his death, he met 
Sydney Owenson for the first time, after a long 
absence ; early reminiscences crowded upon him, and 
affected him visibly. These feelings partially found 
vent in a poetical letter which he sent to Miss 

In quoting a few lines we gather a fact : 

When first too weak to grasp the laurel bough, 
I wove a rosy chaplet for thy biow ; 
And, in its various hues, would idly trace, 
Some flowery semblance of thy charming face ; 
Oft would the sweet seduction of thy smile, 
Attune my numbers, and enrich my style; 
Whate'er of fair, or perfect I designed, 
Was merely copied from thy form and mind ; 


How oft have I beheld in rapturous trance, 
Thy graceful steps adorn the sprightly dance 

* * * * 

Hoarded with pious care within my breast, 
Oh ever let thy dear idea rest ; 
There fixed, the silent, secret object be, 
Of my poetical idolatry. 

Dermody concludes a long poem with : 

Waller once more may see his Sydney's name 
Revived in song, superior, and the same. 




Croker's " Familiar Epistles." — The Scourging Censor lashed in 
return.— Sir M. Crofton.— Tyreragh.— " The Wild Irish Girl " 
begun. — The Originals from whom the Characters were drawn. 
— State of Ireland prior to the publication of " The Wild Irish 
Girl." — The Search for a publisher. — Panic of Phillips. — John- 
son's Generous Offer respectfully declined. — Peter Pindar's 
Suggestion. — Atkinson. — Lord" Hardwicke. — Sydney Owenson 
assailed by the Castle Scribes. — Extracts from the Diatribes 
of M. T.— Defended by a " Son of Ireland."— William Pitt 
reads " The Novice of St. Dominick." 

In 1804, an anonymous attack upon the " Present 
State of the Irish Stage/' appeared in six Poetical 
Epistles, addressed to the then Patentee, "Frederick 
Jones. Performers, dramatic writers, and every indi- 
vidual connected directly or indirectly with the 
theatre w r ere subjected by the author to lacerating 
lashes of poignant sarcasm and invective. The style, 
although able, exhibited traces of a youthful hand : 
the endless display of Greek quotations, and classical 
lore, savoured of the new fangled learning of a suc- 
cessful collegian, while the internal evidence was of 
a character to convince the friends of a young Galway 
man, named John Wilson Croker, that nobody but 
lie could have penned it. The coteries of cities are, 
unhappily, not averse to a brilliant bit of scandal, or 
a sparkling slander, and hence the book was eagerly 
read, and what was more to the purpose, bought. 



People laughed and chuckled over the galling per- 
sonality of the " Familiar Epistles/' but it was not 
laughing gas alone that John Wilson Croker let loose 
among the coteries of Dublin. His work was a 
deadly shell, propelled with well calculated aim, 
which, in exploding, not only wounded many, but 
consigned some sensitive hearts to the shroud. The 
tomb-stone of the actor, Edwin, in St. Werburgh's 
church-yard, Dublin, records that " his death was 
occasioned by an illiberal and cruel attack on his 
professional reputation from an anonymous assassin." 
This was the barbed pen which sixteen years later 
stabbed Keats to death, and sought to fasten itself 
in Sydney Owenson's heart. 

"The Familiar Epistles," became every day 
more and more spoken of. Edition after edition 
vanished with pantomimic rapidity, and the work has 
since held a high place for its acrimonious pith and 

No arm but one in Dublin had the courage to 
grapple with this formidable assailant of reputations. 
In 1804, appeared "A Few Reflections" on the work 
alluded to, with the following quotation from Shaks- 
peare as a motto. 

" No might or greatness in mortality, 
Can censure 'scape ; back wounding calumny, 
The whitest virtue strikes. What King so strong, 
Can tie the gall up in the slandering tongue ?" 

The w r ork was dedicated to Jones by the author, 
w r ho added, " 1 am encouraged to present this trifle 
to you, as the smallest token of the respect and kind- 
ness I feel towards one, whose principal characteristics 
are those of being an indulgent and affectionate 
parent, and an honourable man." The initials 
signed to this dedication are " S. 0." They are 

1 04 


rather unusual initials, and we think they can be 
considered applicable to but one person. The cir- 
cumstance of Sydney Owenson's connection with the 
stage, through the parent whom she revered, was 
likely to have given her a peculiar interest in the 
subject, and fiom the chivalrous character of the 
woman, it is not surprising that she should have 
been the first to parry, and resent the attack. Some 
of her dearest friends were virulently assailed by 
Croker. The smile of the eminent tragedienne 
Miss YValstein (who had been a theatrical colleague 
of Owenson's) was cruelly compared to platinsr ou a 
coffin. "She plays the gay parts of Aliss Hardy 
tolerably," addtd young Croker, "because she plays 
them in a mask." Mrs. Siddons was satirised in the 
same breath, whilst the operatic dramas of Sydney 
Owenson's early patron and fast friend, Mr. Atkinson, 
were pronounced fr a strange collection of stupid and 
often indecent vulgarisms on which Sir John Steven- 
son threw away some very good music." All this 
Miss Owenson is likely to have resented; the florid 
character of the style reminds us of her early writ- 
ings. Some very learned classical quotations are, 
it is hue, introduced ; but Miss Owenson's works 
have occasionally contained similar references. The 
French citations from La Fontaine, and others of 
which the authoress was so fond, are freely introduced, 
while the almost identity of many passages* in the 

* Take, for instance, the concluding: remark, in which the 
author declares that u it was not undertaken with the intention of 
displaying genius, but merely fiom the necessity of defending 
innocence — a necessity whose dictates I shall be ever proud to 
obey, aud upon the remembrance of which I chiefly depend for 
indulgence to its many Jhu/ts from that Public whose generosity 
prevailing over their criticism, will blind them to the execution 
while it reminds them of the intent." Dees not the style of this 
paragraph recall a passage in Lady Morgans Preface to " Salvator 


acknowledged and nnavowed writings of Sydney 
Owenson leave little room to doubt that she, and no 
one else, wrote the book. 

Frederick Jones, soon after, brought forward a 
little play of Miss OwensWs entitled "The First 
Attempt" and gave her up the entire receipts of the 
house ; Atkinson wrote a poem on the subject, ap- 
pealing to t he public to encourage her play. These 
and other circumstances which might be cited suggest 
that both considered themselves under some obliga- 
tion to the little authoress. Croker's "Familiar 
Epistles" moreover, seem to have left a very clear 
impression on Ladv Morgan's mind, for, in the 
edition of her "Wild IrislTGirl/' published in 1S57, 
she particularly refers to some personally sarcastic 
poems, which appeared in her young days, and adds, 
" the supposed author of the best and bitterest of these 
occasional poems (for whxh there was no occasion) 
the Gentil Bernard of the Dubliu Blues was — the 
future secretary of the Admiralty and aw*ul editor in 
petto of the Quarterly Review, who lisped in numbers 
— and the numbers came." The authorship of the 
" Reflections" on Croker's " Familiar Epistles" has 
never hitherto been attributed to Miss Owenson, 
but there can be, we conceive, no question, that to 
her pen its existence is owing. We also rather 
think that the origin of Croker^s deathless spite 

Rosa ?" — t>. M I now dismiss my first attempt at biographical 
writing and commit it to the indulgence of that Public which 
is the sole umpire for whose suffrage an author should be solici- 
tous." And again in her Preface to •* France." — " Whilst I thus 
endeavour to account for faults 1 cannot excuse, and to solicit the 
indulgence o/ that public from whom I have never experienced 
severity, 6lc" Her letter to the Reviewers contains a similar 
passage, M I cannot take my leave of that public to which I 
have appealed without offering acknowledgment for its indmi- 

----- n 




against his fair countrywoman, may be dated from 
this period. 

The author begins by saying that " before examining 
c The Familiar Epistles/ I found it to be an entire 
contradiction of that candid inquiry which from the 
familiarity of its title, I was led to expect. Hoping 
that it would have been answered by some abler hand, 
I remained in silent expectation, but alas ! none 
such appearing ; at length, I was induced to take the 
task upon myself and trust my ideas to the candour 
of the public, rather as a friend of virtue than an 
advocate for fame/' 

A vigorous argumentative tone pervaded the body 
of the work. " It was ever my opinion" observes 
the author, "that criticism consisted in a just investi- 
gation into the merits of a performance and not in 
a close inquiry of the private character of the indivi- 
duals composing such ; I did suppose that it was held 
as too noble to be perverted to the meanness of per- 
sonality, or used but as the cover of abuse. Im- 
pressed with this idea, I expected an impartial exam- 
ination of ability and talent, and not a minule in- 
quiry after vice ; — I did expect to hear the actor 
censured, but not the man abused ; — I did 
expect to see laid down the keen observations of the 
man of sense and true judgment, not the gross 
language of heated animosity, or the acrimony of 
personal hate. Scarce a leaf I opened, but I found 
the characters of our performers virulently attacked, 
and misrepresented, and the whole tenor of the work, 
seemingly designed for no other earthly purpose than 
to make them appear hideous in the eyes of a 
public, on whose approbation they must depend for 
any success in their arduous profession, and main- 
tenance through Hie." 

Miss Walstein, it may be remembered, was, for 



some time, a theatric colleague of Owenson's. It 
was evidently a friendly hand, which penned 
such lines as these : " Were it only to display in the 
language of naked truth the excellencies of this 
lady's dramatic character, my task would then be 
easy ; but to ward off the ungenerous attack of 
seemingly inveterate hatred against female merit 
requires something more than the dignified silence 
of contempt, or the consciousness of unstained 
virtue * * He complains of her performing too 
much, and not keeping within the circles of those 
characters in which she is allowed to excel ; but this 
is not the effect of any ill-timed vanity in her ; it 
arises from the want of other actresses to fill these 
parts which she obligingly undertakes, and likewise 
as the forfeiture for the refusal of a part is five 
guineas, it might not be quite so convenient for Miss 
Walstein to pay that sum every time her own wish 
prompted her to refuse playing." 

The third edition of Mr. Croker's work, published 
in 1805, condescended to notice the sound and 
pertinent " Reflections occasioned by a perusal of 
the e Familiar Epistles/" Owenson, not having 
been on the stage since 179S, was exempted from 
the lash with which Croker tortured the various 
performers of the Dublin Theatre. Owenson, at 
this period, was endeavouring to earn a livelihood by 
carrying on the trade of a wine and spirit merchant 
in Fleet Steeet, Dublin. 

Throughout the year 1805, Miss Owenson's pen 
was not idle. Practice makes perfect, and in trying 
her hand on a third novel, she contrived to avoid a 
considerable portion of the blemishes of style and 
taste which had previously exposed her to adverse 
criticism. A short narrative of the origin and pro- 
gress of that highly romantic novel which threw the 


friends of Sydney Owenson into an ecstacy of admi- 
ration, may not be irrelevant. 

In 1805, she revisited Sligo and the adjacent 
scenes of her early joys and sorrows. In the barony 
of Tyreragh, and the deeply romantic shores of the 
T\ estern coast of Ireland, beaten by the waves which 
roll in unbroken from Labrador, Miss Owenson' s ima- 
ginative mind found ample scope for its musings, at the 
most impressionable epoch of human existence. It 
is interesting to know that "The Wild Irish Girl" 
was actually written among the scenes, the circum- 
stances, and the people it describes. The story 
originally made an episode in a ponderous journal, 
kept by little Sydney from her school clays upwards, 
as a means of communing with herself, simply be- 
cause she had no one else to commune with, who 
understood her, in " her own way." The accidents 
of remote Conn aught cousin ship with the family of 
Sir Malby Crofton gave her singular and obvious ad- 
vantages. She spent several months under the 
hospitable roof of Longford House, and thus gained 
opportunities of graphically depicting, not only the 
wild and romantic scenery of the surrounding region, 
but of studying the graceful person, and endearing 
idiosynciacies of Sir Malby*s accomplished daughter 
Elizabeth, afterwards Mrs. Colonel jNorcote of 
Sligo. There can be no objection to now announc- 
ing the fact that this lady formed the prototype of 
Glorvina in " The Wild Irish Girl/' while the ficti- 
tious portrait of Glorvina has been said to have sug- 
gested the Diana Vernon of i£ Rob Roy." A mag- 
azine paper of 1&25, attributed to Sir Charles 
Morgan, observes, " In ' The Wild Irish Girl' there is 
an air of delightful originality, and it has been 
asserted, with some reason, that it was this work 
which gave rise to the Scotch novels. The r great 



unknown' lias said otherwise ; but, if Miss Edge- 
worth were his model, it is somew T hat extraordinary 
that he has never attempted to imitate her. Her 
works are transcripts of the present day— his of the 
past. Diana Vernon's resemblance to the Irish chief- 
tain's daughter is rather too remarkable in many 
points, to be accidental."" 

father John, the chaplain of the Prince of Cool- 
avin, was modelled on the character of the then 
Catholic Dean of Sligo, Dr. Flynn, "One/' observed 
Lady Morgan, forty years afterwards, " of those 
learned, liberal, and accomplished gentlemen of the 
Irish Catholic hierarchy of that day, whom foreign 
travel and education, and consequent intercourse 
with European society and opinions, sent back to 
Ireland for its advantage and illustration; thus 
turning the penalties of its shallow and jealous 
government into a national benefit V Lady Morgan 
does not seem to know that Doctor Flynn' s genius 
and virtues led to his elevation in 1812, to the 
Episcopal see of Achonry. He was a man of im- 
posing aspect, and of almost giant mould. Sligo, 
forty years since, was a stronghold of sectarian 
bigotry : and one night, a party of low Orangemen 
with passions maddened by a recent debauch, re- 
mained at the angle of a road for the purpose of 
waylaying the Popish Dean. Dr. Flynn was happily 
provided with a blackthorn stick, which he wielded 
with such effect that half a dozen of his assailants 
measured their length upon the ground. There can 
be little doubt that Doctor Flynn also suggested 
that good country priest with the continental bow 
who treads " the stage of Florence McCarthy." 

From the legends of the ancient and once 
potential families of Macdermott's of Moylurg, 
the most romantic incidents and traditional allusions 



of the story were derived. The name assumed by 
the founder of this chivalrous sept was Diamod, or 
Macdermott, which as Mr. D' Alton reminds us, signi- 
fies "The God of War/' 

In the Autobiography of A, Hamilton Rowan, 
there is an authentic conversation reported between 
Lord-Chief- Justice Clonmel and Mr. P. Byrne, Book- 
seller of Grafton Street, curiously illustrative of the 
unconstitutional terrorism which the executive of 
that day systematically exercised over the publishers 
of books having a patriotic or liberal tendency. 
Mr. Byrne having advertised the Trial of Hamilton 
Rowan for publication in 1793, was accosted non- 
officially by the Lord-Chief- Justice and informed, 
" If you print or publish what may inflame the mob, 
it behoves the judges of the land to notice it," and 
again, " Take care, Sir, what you do : I give you this 
caution, for if there are any reflections on the judges 
of the laud, by the eternal G — 1 will lay you by 
the heels." The publisher replied, "1 have 
many thanks to return vour lordship for your 
caution !" 

Such grossly irregular interference of the Irish 
executive, soon reduced the publishing trade of 
Dublin to a state of almost utter prostration; and 
we are not surprised to hear from Lady Morgan 
many years afterwards, that, " At the moment the 
1 TYild Irish Girl' appeared, it was dangerous to 
-write on Ireland, hazardous to praise her, and 
difficult to find a publisher tor an Irish tale which 
had a political tendency. For even ballads sung in 
the streets of Dublin, had been denounced by go- 
vernment spies, and hushed by Castle sbirri ; because 
the old Irish refrain of Eiren go Bragh, awakened 
the cheer of the ragged, starving audience, who had 
much better have raised the chorus of c Eiren go 



Bread/ Graves were then still green, where the 
victims of laws, uselessly violated, were still wept 
over by broken hearts ; and the bitter disappointment 
of a nation's hopes, by the recent and sudden de- 
sertion of Pitt, the most powerful champion of 
Catholic Emancipation, which gave to ascendency 
new power, and sunk Catholicism in deeper despon- 
dency, was only slowly yielding to the benign in- 
fluence of a new and liberal administration of Irish 
affairs, during the temporary return to power of the 
"Whigs, under the vice-royalty of the Duke of Bed- 
ford/' No work, however, of fictitious narrative, 
founded on national grievances, and borne out by 
historic fact, had yet appealed to the sympathies of 
the general reader, or found its way to the desul- 
tory studies of domestic life. Miss Owenson having 
opened communication with Sir E. Philips of St. 
Paul's Church-yard, the publisher of her first born 
literary bantling, he not only consented to bring out 
" The Wild Irish Girl," but to pay something con- 
siderable for the privilege. Philips, however, had 
no sooner examined the work, than a panic filled his 
usually impassive temperament. "The sentiments 
enunciated," he said, "are too strongly opposed to 
the English interest in Ireland, and I must withdraw 
from my original offer." This hitch in the negocia- 
tion raised the Irish blood of the ardent young 
novelist to — as she herself said — bog-heat ; she indig- 
nantly remonstrated, but all to no effect. The work 
was offered to various publishers, and rejected by all 
until Mr. Johnson of St. Paul's Church-yard, who 
had published the novels of Miss Edgeworth, offer- 
ed the delighted and astonished girl three hundred 
guineas, with some extra sum upon future edi- 
tions for the copyright. 

As soon as the M.S. Mas forwarded to Johnson 



his neighbour, Sir R. Philips, hearing of the cir- 
cumstance, became a prey to professional remorse 
and jealousy, and having brought some local and 
trade influences to bear upon Johnson, he urged 
his prior claim to the "Wild Irish Girl" with 
such force, that he absolutely succeeded in rescu- 
ing and regaining her. The original title of the 
book was " the Princess of Inismore but Doctor 
Wallcott, better known as Peter Pindar, having 
obligingly stood literary sponsor, strongly advised 
Sydney Qwenson to give her volume the epithet by 
which it has since been so widely and favourably 
known. " From that moment," recently observed 
Lady Morgan, in noticing the circumstance, "the 
author prit son parti, and in selecting Celtic heroes 
for her Irish tales, and the public's delectation, she 
stuck to Saxon publishers for her private interests. 
The O'Donnels, the O'Briens and the O'Flaherties 
were fancy men; but the Philipses, the Longmans, 
and the Colburns have been her cavalieri pa- 

"The Wild Irish Girl," did not become imme- 
diately popular in London, but it soon crossed the sea 
to that native region, of which it was so racy, and 
in a short time few Dublin drawing-rooms were 
without it. To the silent study, also, this little tale 
became no stranger. Many masculine minds, 
fatigued beneath the weight of daily accumulating 
legal lore, sought "The Wild Irish Girl" for relaxa- 
tion, and although they at first took it up. merely in 
the hope of enjoying a laugh at Miss Owenson's 
romance, and possibly at her expense, they soon 
found eye and heart rivetted to the page by subtle 
political argument. There had been a long and 
painful pause in the once uninterrupted flow of 
Irish national Literature ; the fire of Emmet's 



patriotism had been extinguished in his own blood. 
The rash of his eloquence, which continued even on 
the scaffold, had been cut short by the axe. Moore 
had not yet devoted his genius to the poetry of 
politics, nor sung the wrongs of Ireland to her own 
touching melodies, "thus awakening sympathies/' 
as Lady Morgan herself said, " which reason could 
not rouse, and making the ear a passage to the heart 
and understanding." Doctor Doyle and Sheil, were 
still at school, Davis was not born, the outburst of 
O'ConnelFs wrathful eloquence had not yet rever- 
berated through the land. The Catholic Association 
was yet to awaken public opinion from the torpor of 
reiterated disappointment and hope deferred. It had 
not yet allayed the pangs of despair, nor accustomed 
the dull ear of a powerful oligarchy to the clanking 
of penal chains, or to the voice of remonstrance ! 

A tempest of violent misrepresentation and rancour 
had long raged unchecked against Catholic interests. 
It became fashionable to exult in the violation of the 
treaty of Limerick, and to sneer down the just claims 
of the Catholics. Many highly cultivated intellects 
proved not exempt from the political contagion. 
The mind of the Right Hon. George Ogle author of 
u Molly Asthore," and " Bannows Banks," became so 
sadly warped that we find him in 1802 coarsely assert- 
ing " a papist would swallow a false oath as easily as, 
I would a poached egg." Miss Owenson's godfather 
Ned Lysaght urged Mr. Coyle, a Roman Catholic, to 
challenge the Privy Councillor. Four shots having 
been interchanged without effect, Lysaght com- 
pelled Ogle to write an apology on the crown of 
his hat. This was among the first efforts made 
by the long down-trodden Catholics of Ireland to 
regain their feet, and to wrest the scourge from the 
grasp of their tormentors. 




The tempest of Orange calumny was at its height 
when " The Wild Irish Girl," bounded airily into 
the midst of it. Her tiny voice was heard above the 
storm, she appealed to reason, and reason fell captive 
before her ! 

Joseph Atkinson, M.R.I.A., one of the early 
patrons of Sydney Owenson's jouthful genius, read 
" The Wild Irish Girl/' with feelings of singular 
pride and pleasure. In the fullness of this feeling 
he threw off the following complimentary poetic 
address to Miss Owenson. We are unwilling to 
omit a line of verses written with such force, beautv, 
and truth. Critics of the present day will probably 
declare that the latter ennobling characteristic is 
hardly applicable to Atkinson's judgment on the 
crude novels of " St. Clair/' and " The Novice /' but, 
as we already observed, they were strangely popular 
at the time. No one laughed more heartily at their 
undisciplined and puerile romance than Lady Morgan 
herself, as soon as experience of the world, and ample 
mental culture, had rendered sound her thought 
and style. 

Whilst you with genius, and with patriot fire 
The love of Erin in our hearts inspire, 
Combine tradition with historic lore, 
To prove her glorious deeds and worth of yore, 
Our time shall hail you champion of her cause, 
And future ages sanction our applause. 
" St. Clair " first deckt you with a laurel crown, 
" The Novice" next bestow'd more high renown; 
" The Irish Girl" a triple wreath shall give, 
And, like our shamrock, ever-blooming live ! 
A nation's gratitude shall twine the band 
To grace your temples, and your fame expand ! 
"While we with sympathizing souls bewail 
The prince of Inismore's pathetic tale. 
Thus while you rescue Erin's ancient race 
From prejudice, contempt, and false disgrace, 
may the offspring of her present days 
~ Aspire to emulate the worth you praise, 



While Education, nurs'd by Freedom's smile, 
Spread Arts and Science thro' this favourite isle, 
And may the genial scene your fancy paints 
Descend from Heav'n to bless the Land of Saints ! 
And as in rapture o'er your Harp we dwell, 
"Which you, like fair Glorvina, tune so well ! 
And hear a voice like her's that sweetly sings, 
Warbling responsive to the minstrel strings — 
And whilst we trace in this accomplish'd maid 
The taste and science former times display'd, 
Her filial love, her virtues so correct, 
Born to secure esteem and fond respect. 
We can no longer doubt the picture true, 
For sure Glorvina lives reviv'd in you ; 
And to complete the moral story toid, 
May you another Mortimer behold! 

The Castle scribes seem to have speedily received 
instructions to raise a reactionary shout, and fling 
ridicule upon " The Wild Irish Girl/' The Viceroy, 
Lord Hardwicke, was a mild and moderate man, 
whose only weakness consisted in sometimes suffering 
Lord Castlereagh, the Lord Chancellor Redesdale, 
and other virulentopponents of Catholic Emancipation 
to interfere somewhat irregularly with the Govern- 
ment of Ireland. 

The ".Freeman's Journal" with other leading 
Dublin newspapers of this period were in the habit 
of receiving large sums from the Government, for the 
insertion of verbose proclamations which flow r ed 
almost uninterruptedly from the Castle : and although 
the 'Freeman' had popular tendencies, its policy, owing 
to the circumstance alluded to, occasionally vacillated 
until the successive editorial regimes of Messrs. 
Staunton, and Lavelle placed it upon a steady basis 
of principle. Shortly after the publication of " The 
Wild Irish Girl/' the first of a series of clever and 
insidious letters against it and the authoress were 
prominently inserted by the editor of the " Freeman's 
Journal," a gentleman whom Watty Cox and Dr. 

i 2 


Brennan frequently satirised under the name of 
"Con, the Daggerman." Brennan used, monthly, 
to favour Ins readers with extracts from "Con's 
Diary" such as 

" Rose at six, and cleaned my shoes 
Miss Walstein's chariot did abuse, 
Wrote two hours against the town, 
Five men's honest fame run down. 
Dressed in black, and breeches satin, 
In the ' Freeman,' slandered Grattan." &c. 

The writer signed himself M. T. : but this 
was probably one of the many of the letters 
pseudonyme which the late John Wilson Croker 
used to employ. As the foremost writer of that 
party which Miss Owenson had trenchantly 
attacked and exposed, Mr. Croker was very 
likely to have retaliated upon her in his own fa- 
vourite fashion of anonymous slashing-criticism. 
Very wily means were resorted to, in order to 
obscure the attractive brightness of Miss Owenson's 
youthful genius, and to damage her fame and name, 
in the estimation of even her own political friends. 
The organ of Miss Owenson's own party was, there- 
fore, triumphantly selected as the medium for dis- 
seminating a series of virulent, implacable, and ex- 
tremely clever diatribes against " The Wild Irish Girl" 
and its gifted author. Under date, December 15, 1806, 
we find the first of these elaborate productions on re- 
cord. Her assailant proceeded, in true legal fashion, 
first, to read the indictment, and then to enlarge 
upon it. " I accuse Miss Owenson," he said, " of 
having written bad novels, and worse poetry — 
volumes without number, and verses without end. 
Nor does my accusation rest upon her want of 
literary excellence. I accuse her of attempting to 
vitiate mankind — of attempting to undermine mo- 
rality by sophistry, and that under the insidious mask 



of virtue, sensibility and truth." A column followed of 
which the reader has had a sample. On January 
2nd, 1807, we find M. T. returning to the charge, and 
with two columns more, seeking to overwhelm Miss 
Owenson utterly. He also endeavours to weaken, 
by a flippant paragraph of anticipation, the species 
of retaliation which his attack on Miss Owenson 
would probably provoke. " I will be accused of 
having attacked with coward pen, a helpless, unpro- 
tected female, of the atrocious attempt to injure 
infant fame and delicate sensibility — every eye will 
shed a crystal tear for the martyred authoress. I 
will be abused w T ith all the elegant lavishness of 
sorrow, and all the fashionable volubility of woe — 
I will be impeached in every sigh, and sentenced in 
every whisper." After much " make-ready — present 
— tire," to this effect, M. T. then proceeds to dis- 
charge his volley. "In this lady's productions I 
view the most dogmatical self-opinion, the most 
menacing array of contradiction, laying down rules 
with the imperative mandate of a law giver," and 
again," I call upon the parental or the appointed guard- 
ians of youth, I require them to peruse the work, 
and then pronounce their unequivocal judgment on 
its merits. If they find one page which will act 
towards the increase of moral rectitude, one volun- 
tary contribution to virtuous feeling, or uncontamin- 
ated truth, I will not only qualify my assertions 
with doubt, but retract them with denial." 

M. T. foresaw that Miss Owenson would not be 
without defenders, but he soon found that he had 
failed to anticipate a tithe of the retaliation to which 
his ungenerous conduct exposed him. On January 
3rd, a writer, under the signature of "a Son of 
Ireland" entered the lists with him. " I have always 
observed," he wrote "that in proportion as genius or 
merit of any sort happens to prevail, envy and ig. 



norarice take the alarm : foolishly supposing, that by 
waging war with distinguished characters, they ac- 
quire, at least, a reflected reputation. And I have 
likewise observed that in men of contracted minds, 
there ever lurks a secret and narrow jealousy of 
those ladies, whose studies and superior understand- 
ings have procured them the approbation of the 
learned, and the esteem of the wise. Conscious of 
his inferiority, but unwilling to acknowledge it, the 
puny pretender to wit is prompt to undervalue the 
talent that can detect, and, if necessary, expose his 
insufficiency." "The Son of Ireland," whom we 
suspect to have been Charles Kendal Bushe, liken- 
ed Miss Owenson's assailant to the angry Arab, who 
in hurling a pebble at a pyramid, confessed the ele- 
vation of the object and the imbecility of his own 

" It is not with genius only," he continued, " that 
M. T. is at war. The morality of our young but in- 
structive novelist, gives him unpardonable offence : 
and 6 The Wild Irish Girl' he will send to the House 
of Correction, where she is to be stripped and scourged 
for presuming to inculcate the moral of benevolence, 
and the extinction of sectarian differences.* * But 
before M. T. had proceeded to question the morality 
of others, it had been but decent in him to examine 
his own. That heart cannot be perfect, which would 
rob genius of its fair reputation, and industry of its 
honorable rewards. M. T. should have recollected 
that Miss Owenson has the important charge of some 
young ladies whose education is committed to her 
care, that her morality as much as her genius is one 
of the roads which lead to her fame as a writer, and 
an instructress of youth/'"* " The Son of Ireland" 
in his concluding remark, somewhat uninten- 

* In the " Freeman" of January 6th, 1807, appears a little 
paragraph from Miss Owenson, mentioning that " The gentleman 



tionally bore evidence to the indelibly favourable im- 
pression, which even one interview with Sydney 
Owenson rarely failed, to produce. " I never but 
once was in her company : nor does she at this moment 
know that I am defending her from as feeble an 
adversary as ever I remember to have encountered. 
But after what I have written, should M. T (if indeed 
he be a man) renew his attack on the lady, or notice 
me in your paper, I shall consider and brand him 
as the incorrigible enemy of Female genius. He 
should remember that she is a woman, and has a 
claim, if not to his politeness, at least upon his 
humanity — that while the gallantry of an Irishman 
is ever proportioned to his strength, the unkindness 
of M. T. proclaims his impotence : that Miss Owen- 
son has been her own, and only tutor, and that her 
opportunities for study have been few and limited — 
very unequal to those academic advantages which 
men alone can attain." 

M. T. seemed to have winced very uneasily under 
the rebuke administered by "The Son of Ireland," 
but instead of disarming the critic's hostility, it rather 
inflamed his spleen the more. That he wrote a 
private letter to the "Freeman's Journal" breathing 
sentiments of irritation, and injured innocence, we 
infer from the following notice to Correspondents : 
" M. T. (we shall only inform him) will have a fair 
opportunity of recriminating on Miss Owenson." 

This little paragraph elicited from the friends of 
the authoress, a number of expostulations and re- 
monstrances with which they continued for several 
days to pursue the luckless editor of the ' Freeman/ 
who now discovered that he had involved himself in 
somewhat of a difficulty. On January 9th, he writes : 

who so kindly became her advocate must have been misinformed 
when he says that she is an instructress of youth in the accepta- 
tion of the word." 



"Do the defenders of this lady really imagine that we 
are inimical to her interests and her fame, because 
we receive strictures upon her productions. They 
are wrong ; we neither know the lady nor her con- 
nections—nor do we desire to know them — we never 
read any of her novels, nor do we purpose to read 
them. The lady may be respectable, and from the 
sphere in which she is said to move, we do not question 
it ; her novels may be excellent, but of her excellence 
we do not pretend to judge."" These remarks not 
being strong enough, the editor on reflection, added : 
" From what we have collected in conversation, we 
are inclined to give her ample credit for a very large 
share indeed of merit as a novelist, and as a moral 
and excellent woman. Let this satisfy some anxious 
inquirers ; but they are extremely misguided if they 
think that any idle bluster or impertinent swagger 
shall induce us to withhold a single line." 

On January 17th, M. T. returned to his unworthy 
labour, and with considerable irony went on to 
taunt" The Son of Ireland" for having dared to 
place his shield between Miss Owenson and her 
assailant. "There never was a composition," he 
wrote, " which bore so little the character of reply. 
Indeed, it seems to me as if the author was undeter- 
mined which side of the question he ought to take, 
or what line of augument he should pursue; some- 
times abusive : then conciliating — in one sentence 
defying my wrath— in another mendicant for my 
pity — in short, Sir, were it not that the public 
might misconstrue silence into assent, I should have 
passed over this silly epistle without notice or com- 
ment." The anonymous Critic proceeded to wield 
his cutlass pen with a vigour strongly suggestive 
of a Quarterly Reviewer in the days of the old Tory 
regime ; and after having given expression tp a 
tissue of acrimonious criticism, longer than a leader 



of the " Times" or a review in the "Athenaeum," M. T. 
concluded. " Let them beware, unpalatable as my 
former communications may have been, the succeed- 
ing ones may acquire some additional acidity. I will 
pursue the even tenor of my way regardless of scurillity 
and defying abuse. Conscious of the purity of the 
motives by which I am actuated, I will not recede 
from the prosecution of this undertaking, until I 
shall have convinced the public of the correctness of 
my original assertion as to the tendency of Miss 
Owenson's works. I will examine impartially, and 
argue dispassionately. If I err, I will acknowledge 
error, but no threat shall have power to frighten me 
into silence while I can render up my humble mite 
to virtue, by pointing out vice concealed under her 
trappings, with the semblance of feeling and the 
mimicry of truth." 

" These animadversions," said Lady Morgan long 
after, in alluding to the circumstance, " must have 
placed me under the ban of social and literary pre- 
sumption for ever, but for the timely championship 
of some of my gallant and liberal countrymen." 

"The Wild Irish Girl," however, was buoyed up 
into notice by the very means taken to sink it. The 
Rev. Richard Frizelle, in the very amusing local satire 
published by him in 1807, entitled "The Law 
Scrutiny or Attorney's Guide," furnishes a conclusive 
illustration of this remark. " For two or three days," 
he writes, "I found considerable difficulty to get 
the ' Freeman's Journal' (the paper I usually read) 
from my wife and daughters, who, while it was 
filled with election advertisements and French Bul- 
letins, surrendered it to my exclusive perusal. ' Let 
me see/ said I, 'what is this that occupies your 
attention?' and they pointed out a letter signed 
M. T. I read it, and then for the first time determined 
to read the book it calumniated. On an impartial 



perusal of both, I was certain of one of two 
things, viz. either that Miss Owenson herself abused 
the work to expedite the sale (which however stood 
in need of no such artifice) or that my Lord C — t — h, 

and the Right Hon. Mr. F employed a hireling 

scribbler to damn a work which, notwithstanding 
all his Lordship did to degrade his country, had the 
impudence to exhibit in its pages the ancient res- 
pectability, consequence and splendour of the Irish 
nation, and to throw impediments in the way of Mr. 

F , to banish from the land the" only faithful 

animal it seems to contain. My first opinion pre- 
ponderated, till a second or third of these letters, 
descending to personal invective, completely banished 
it and left the last impressed on my conviction." 

The influential parties to whom the Reverend 
Richard Frizelle alludes, were the notorious Viscount 
Castlereagh, chief extinguisher of the Irish Parlia- 
ment, and the Right Hon. Mr. Foster who had 
fallen into some popular odium by imposing a 
tax upon dogs. Miss Owenson had been from 
her earliest youth, — when "Bell" was her constant 
companion — a warm admirer of the canine tribe, 
and she eloquently resisted the attempt to extirpate 

If the editor of the " Freeman" gave insertion to 
the insidious letters of M. T., he had the manliness 
to throw open his columns to every species of 
defence, which the friends of Miss Owenson felt 
disposed to offer on her behalf. But it is an old re- 
mark that no matter with what power slanders maybe 
refuted, a portion of the dirt is certain to adhere, and 
there can be no doubt that from this moment many 
persons adopted an impression unfavourable to 
Miss Owenson which was never afterwards effaced. 
The next champion whom we find entering the 
lists in the cause of " The Wild Irish Girl" is Dr. 


Hoadley of St, Stephen's Green, Dublin. "I am an 
old fellow/' he writes, "and have perhaps some 
old fashioned notions, but still, I think, I can dis- 
tinguish between right and wrong, and as M. T's 
letter appears to me to be peculiarly improper, you 
will allow me to trouble you with a few observations 
upon it. The lady is the daughter of an old friend of 
mine ; you may think therefore with what feeling I 
read any animadversions upon her works. I im- 
mediately sent to purchase them, and while the 
servant was absent, my sister Bridget and I considered 
the letter attentively. She would have " M. T " to 
stand for malicious thrash, because, she said, she 
knew the lady perfectly well whose unaffected 
elegance of manners, and amiable suavity of dis- 
position rendered her at once interesting and agree- 
able, and whose superior and uncommon charms 
of person attracted unusual admiration. You know, 
Sir, how women will talk. For my part, I thought 
M. T. were the initials of Moses Tomkins, who was 
convicted some time ago of uttering treasonable 
expressions. How you, Sir, could insert such a 
clumsy and malignant farrago, how you could suffer 
the lady's name to be placed in large roman charac- 
ters as a title to such ribaldry, is truly astonishing. 
But everything is changed since my time. I recol- 
lect when a regard for truth, and a respect for the 
sex, were principles very generally diffused; but 
now they are lost — extinguished in the chaotic revo- 
lution which has not only survived the aspect of 
politics and war, but even changed our manners, 
and subverted our morals/' Dr. Hoadley, in con- 
clusion, challenged the world to examine Miss Owen- 
son's writings, and defied them to find 

" One immoral, one corrupted thought, 

One line which, dying, she could wish to hlot." 



One of Miss Owenson's friends had made the 
assertion, that the last book perused by William Pitt in 
the course of the long period of prostration which pre- 
ceded his death was "The Novice of St. Dominick." 
This M. T. indignantly denied. " The last hours of 
the great man's memorable existence/' he said, 
" were spent in acts of devotion, in christian peni- 
tence and consolatory prayer, in appealing with 
the confidence of virtue for mercy to that God 
whose dictates he never ceased to obey." GifFard's 
"Life of Pitt," however, had not then revealed (page 
806) that when the Bishop of Lincoln went to the dying 
statesman's bedside, and requested leave to read 
prayers, he replied, that he had neglected prayer too 
much to have any ground for hoping in its efficacy 
on a death-bed. 

A punning-prop next came to the support of 
Sydney Owenson's "sinking reputation /" On January 
19, lb07, appeared some doggerel lines headed " Ad- 
vice to M. T." 

Empti/y why declare your name 
Th' initials were so near the same, 
That 'twas impossible to doubt 
Although three letters you left out. 
• When you attack this author lass 
Your arguments perhaps might pass 
For reasoning sound, were it not known 
The source from whence the venom's flown. 

The declaration of M. T. that his analysis of Miss 
Owenson's claims to public favour, w r ould be con- 
ducted in a manner strictly " dispassionate and im- 
partial/' was very naturally received with suspicion. 
A writer, under the signature of J. L. — probably the 
subsequently famous " Honest Jack Lawless" — 
wrote : " Her works have been the subject of public 
disquisition, and with the public it remains to judge 



whether the criticism of M. T. will be ' dispassionate 
and impartial \ let him divest himself of all personal 
prejudice before he enters on a task which will be 
submitted to the strictest scrutiny, and on which de- 
pends his fate ; whether in undertaking it he will be 
found actuated by the laudable motives of a philan- 
thropist, or become liable to the detection of being a 
slanderer of private reputations/'' 

The ill-natured critic, having met more resistance 
than he had bargained for, would seem to have been 
somewhat at a loss to determine what tactics next to 
pursue. He had exhausted his quiver of poisoned 
arrows, and must needs make some delay in order to 
replenish it. During this interval, the editor of the 
"Freeman" reprinted the entire of what M. T. had 
previously written against Miss Owenson, but con- 
tinued, as before, to give her the benefit of every ar- 
gument and retort which the friends of the authoress 
thought fit to offer. 

On January 23rd, appeared a long letter, profess- 
ing to have been written by a perfectly impartial ob- 
server of the controversy, but which contained more 
than one passage suggestive of the suspicion that the 
writer may have been briefed by Miss Owenson her- 
self. The following extract from Voltaire heads the 
letter. How fond the authoress always was of quot- 
ing Yoltaire, we need not remind the reader. " Ces 
petits livres de critique, ces brochures periodiques oii 
des hommes incapables de rien produire, denigrent les 
productions des autres, — je les compare h certains 
moucherons, qui vont deposer leurs ceufs dans le 
derriere des plus beaux chevaux, mais cela ne les 
empeche pas de courir," The writer then proceeds 
to address " Mr. Editor." 

"lama young fellow about town, and Fate or 
Fortune (for I must not use so old-fashioned a phrase 


as Providence) having placed me above the actual 
necessity of earning my bread by the sweat of my 
brow, I kill time (Fashion forbids me to say I employ 
it) in a desultory pursuit of literature, and in the 
conversation of a few friends, as unreflecting, as eccen- 
tric, and as indolent as myself. Now, you are to 
know, Sir, that my friends and I have been egregi- 
ously edified by certain strictures on the literary off- 
spring of Miss Owenson, which have appeared in 
your paper, under the signature of M. T. This mo- 
dern Aristarchus having conceived a notion, that the 
aforesaid offspring were not altogether so well behaved 
as might be wished, has subjected them to the pains 
and penalties of critical, chastisement, with such seve- 
rity, that verily my bowels of compassion were moved 
towards those unfortunate objects of his wrath, more 
especially, as I have some small reasons, which in- 
duce me to suspect that they are not altogether so 
culpable as he may imagine." The letter went on to 
say of M. T. that " he appeared to be a writer much 
above mediocrity in talents and information, but, 
perhaps, below it in taste," and concluded with, 
" admitting that my opinion of her works was the 
same as that of M. T., I fear that I should have re- 
tained so much of the spirit d'un preux chevalier, as 
to sacrifice the character of a critic to the feelings of 
a gentleman." 

Another friend of Miss Owenson' s, less courteous 
to her antagonist, adroitly quoted, at his expense, 
some pertinent remarks of old Chaucer. 

" Ne ever Knight so bold, ne ever Dame 

So chast and loyall lived, but he would strive, 

With forged cause, them falsely to defame : 

Ne ever thing so well was doen alive 

But he with blame would blot, and of due praise deprive." 

M. T. at last broke that silence w r hich had seemed 



so conclusively expressive of the exhausted condition 
of his quiver of points. The journal in question, we 
should have said, was a daily publication, and when, 
day after day, M. T. appeared not, it may well be 
supposed that the friends of Miss Owenson inter- 
changed numerous significant nods at his expense. 
" After the lapse of some time," he observes, on 
February 2nd, " I now come forward with the con- 
tinuation of my remarks upon Miss Owenson's 
"Wild Irish Girl," and with my critical appetite not 
a little sharpened by the acrimonious strictures which 
some of the lady's friends have bestowed upon me 
with such profuse liberality. They invoked the 
Muses to aid their cause, and an auxiliary hobbled 
into print with its property of lame rhymes and de- 
fensive dulness." The reader, in sparing us the 
labour of transcribing more, will spare himself the 
drudgery of w r ading through a painfully malignant 
and verbose diatribe. M. T. had neither pith nor 
point, but rioted in an abundance of sweeping asser- 
tion unsupported by proof. There are always plenty 
of ill-natured people who love to see their neighbours 
vilified ; and on the following day we find the letter 
of M. T. reprinted in the " Freeman" for their gra- 
tification, or behoof. A few stings were added by 
way of postscript, and the reader is informed that 
" the immortal Ossian is satisfactorily proved by 
Miss Owenson to have been of real unadultered Hi- 
bernian lineage, and a personage who was as little 
acquainted with Scotland as Macpherson was with 
truth." This fact has been since established. 

On February 4th, 1807, another champion on Miss 
' Owenson' s side sprang into the arena and grappled 
with M. T., of whom he said that however deficient in 
other critical requisites, he possessed at least the 
acidity of a critic. The writer dated his able letter 


from "Lisburn," and was probably one of the 
Crossleys of Lisburn, with whom Miss Owenson was 
so intimate. Speaking of "The Wild Irish Girl/' 
the writer said : " It displays so much knowledge 
of the literature and antiquities of her native country 
that it astonishes us while we read. By her glowing 
pencil our national character is drawn and displayed 
in its proper light. To wrest her native country 
from the opprobrium which has been laid on it by il- 
liberality and prejudice seems to have been the task this 
young Patriot alloted to herself, which as far as could 
be accomplished by genius she has performed. The 
performance adds another wreath to her laurels, and 
entitles her to the gratitude of her country. This, 
Sir, is my dispassionate and unbiassed opinion of 
the works of Miss Owenson. Her genius and taste 
I admire ; I consider her as one of the brightest orna- 
ments of our Isle, and one from whose future works 
(when a few years have given maturity to her judg- 
ment) much may be expected. M. T. may continue 
his strictures with the additional acidity he threatens. 
The discerning no doubt will see that he is either 
blinded by prejudice, or writes from a worse motive ; 
and the most heedless may see that in the very be- 
ginning of his criticism, he perverts the sense and 
brings forth meanings which Miss Owenson could 
never have thought of, much less invented : this, when 
he is so disposed he may do with any other work 
from the highest production of human intellect 
down to the lowest. Miss Owenson need not expect 
to escape censure. It has ever been an attendant 
on genius. It is a tax paid to the public for being 

This w T as followed by " a Familiar Epistle to Miss 
Owenson from an old friend with a new face." The 



letter was a long one, but the motive rather than 
the matter deserves respectful recognition. 

" Lady, what wonders in your works we view 
All wit ere fancied, or all learning knew, 
Dress, love, and morals grace thy glowing page, 
At once instruct and ornament the age." 

She is farther assured that " in books or diamonds 
equally you shine," and that though, " great in the 
drama," she was greater in the Court. 

" What carping critics then shall dare to say 
Your works are follies fleeting as the day — 
Ephemeral beauties — or inconstant sense, 
Vain without learning, without wit pretence ; 
Thy prose bombastic, and thy verses lame, 
The one high sounding, and the other tame." 

Refering to M. T. the writer said : — 

" Could he have cavill'd, if he first perus'd 

Or scann'd those morals none but him accused." 

Although " The Wild Irish Girl" was attacked on the 
ostensible pretext of its errors of style and taste, 
Miss Owenson and her friends well knew that politi- 
cal enmity and alarm were really the main springs 
which opened the flood gates of critical invective 
upon her. The true motive for this savage onslaught 
was not avowed, but every body of ordinary penetra- 
tion saw it. The liberal sentiments expressed in " The 
Wild Irish Girl" filled the Orange Ascendancy party 
with alarm and revenge. 

The malignant and mysterious critic who had 
rushed into the field, determined to snuff out the 
light of Miss Owenson's fame, genius and patriotism, 
found himself, at last, completely foiled in his object. 
The dagger which he aimed at Miss Owenson's 
reputation was driven back, by superior strength, 




upon his own. The peculiar force and virulence 
of his style was, as the reader has seen, speedily 
recognised ; and, gathering up his various missiles 
of distraction, we find hirn retreating, crest-fallen 
but prudentially, from the arena. For six weeks 
subsequently we obtain no glimpse of M. T. in the 
daily columns of the " Freeman's Journal/' 

We trust that in reproducing so many extracts from 
this long forgotten controversy, we have not taxed 
the patience of any reader. In writing the history 
of Lady Morgan's struggles with critics, and achieve- 
ments in spite of them, it became our duty to advert, 
at some length, to this, the first and most wily attempt 
to extinguish her for ever. Considerable delay at- 
tended our efforts to discover the documents in 
question ; a peculiar interest, beyond doubt, attaches 
to them, and the extracts are now transcribed for the 
first time. 

By way of postscript it may, perhaps, be remarked 
as a singular fact, that there hardly ever yet ap- 
peared a novelist, no matter how austerely moral in 
his aim, who had not to bear critical taunts on the 
scoie of immorality. Even Sir Walter Scott was 
not exempt. An anonymous work published by 
Hatchard in 1820, labours to prove that the "author 
of the Waverley Fictions has not made the inte- 
rests of religion and morality any part of his plan 
in the numerous volumes he has given to the world." 




Miss Owenson patronised in high quarters. — Public demonstration 
in her honour. — Becomes a Dramatist. — The Prologue. — 
M. T. again. — Beats a Retreat. — " Mr. Owenson's Night." — 
Curran, Grattan, Bushe, Plunket. — Great success of " The Wild 
Irish Girl." — Patriotic Sketches. — The authoress in Connaught. 
— Thady Connellan. — The Lay of an Irish Harp. — Miss 
Owenson appeals on behalf of the Poor. — " Sweep — Sweep." — 
" Ida of Athens." — Miss Owenson sets aside the Decision of a 
Judge and Jury. — Stanmore Priory. — The Missionary. — Mar- 
riage of Sydney Owenson. — A Romance of Real Life. — Sir 
Charles Morgan. — Death of Robert Owenson. — Sir Arthur 
Clarke. — " O'Donnel." — Correspondence with Monk Mason. 

Great as was Sydney Owenson's triumph at the re- 
treat of her assailant, it had yet to reach its fullness. 
The short-lived but memorable government of the 
Duke of Bedford then held sway in Dublin Castle. 
His arrival had rekindled that hope in the hearts of 

• the Irish Catholics, which had been so long delayed 
and so often crushed out. The good Viceroy and 
his Duchess heard of the unworthy attempt to write 

* down Miss Ow r enson, and in conjunction with the 
liberal Lord Chancellor Ponsonby, and the humane 
Commander of the Forces, Lord Harrington, they 
resolved to sustain her by a public mark of patronage 
and regard. The Countess of Harrington and Lady 
Asgill had previously shewn Miss Owenson much 
courtesy and attention, but a more demonstrative 

k 2 


proof of their friendly feeling was now determined 
upon. Nearly half a century afterwards, Lady Mor- 
gan, in recurring to this period of her life, wrote : 
" The anonymous attacks levied during many months, 
against "The Wild Irish GirP in the Irish journals, 
led at last to a public testimony in the author's be- 
half, on the part of these her first and best friends ; 
and an impromptu little drama styled ' The First 
Attempt/ (as it was her last in that line,) was writ- 
ten and produced at the Theatre Royal, Dublin, at 
the express wish of her kind supporters, who, one 
and all, from the representative of majesty downward, 
attended the first representation, to evince to an anti- 
Irish faction, their determined protection of Irish 
talent, however moderate." 

"When we consider Robert Owenson's theatrical 
passion and antecedents, it is almost surprising that 
she who possessed so much hereditary taste and talent, 
had not before tried her hand at a plav. In the 
" Dublin Evening Post" of February 28th* 1807, we 
read — " Miss Owenson's opera is in a forward state of 
rehearsal and will shortly appear before the public. 
Mr. T. Cooke, who has on so many former occasions 
contributed to the public entertainment, has harmo- 
nised the music of our fair countrywoman." The 
editor of the u Freeman," observing that the general 
feeling was in her favour, now espoused the cause of 
Miss Owenson with considerable devotion. On 
March 11th, 1807, he announces to the public that 
Miss Owenson has paid £85 for the expense of hiring 
the theatre, with the sum of thirty guineas to Mr. 
Cooke for the musical composition, and adds, " It re- 
quires, therefore, all the support and countenance of 
her friends and the public, not to let her be a sufferer 
for contributing to our dramatic amusement." 

Lady Morgan, more than forty years after, de- 



scribed incidentally the appearance of old Crow Street 
Theatre upon this memorable evening. " The thea- 
tre exhibited a singular and brilliant spectacle on this 
occasion, extremely demonstrative of the party feeling 
at that time in Ireland, and indeed of its peculiar 
social state. The vice-regal box and dress-circle were 
exclusively occupied by the Court, and officers of the 
garrison, who were headed by the Commander-in- 
Chief. The whole of the liberal part of the Irish bar, 
and their friends, filled the upper circle, and the pit 
and galleries were occupied by a popular Irish Ca- 
tholic audience, whose fun and humorous sallies filled 
up the intervals of the acts, while their frequent 
cheers for the Lord-Lieutenant, and frequent calls for 
' Patrick's Day/ and for 'Kate Kearney/ — (a 
popular composition of the author's), produced a sort 
of national drama ' avant la scene' infinitely more 
amusing than that which was enacted on it. The 
Duchess of Bedford and all the ladies of her circle 
wore the Irish bodkin, and thus raised the price of 
Irish gold in the Dublin market of bijouterie ! if not 
of its native talent/' 

The late Joseph Atkinson, Esq., of Melfield, Trea- 
surer to the Irish Ordnance, a man of amiable dis- 
position, refined taste, and a poet of no mean calibre, 
(see p. 114 ante), stuck to little Sydney like a true 
friend on this occasion. He wrote the Prologue to 
her play, and giving her the benefit of his local in- 
fluence and popularity, published it, with his name, 
in the journals of the day. 

" This night a Novice, to the stage unknown, 
To all the failings of an author prone, 
Comes here a Penitent to make confession, 
Hoping you'll pardon this her first transgression ; 
If to amuse you should be deemed a crime, 
Forgive her motive, and she'll mend in time : 
Perhaps ere now the busy voice of fame 


Has whispered eagerly the author's name 

Hints that her laurels have adorn'd Romance, 

'Twined with the Shamrock and the flowers of France ; 

That an old favourite of the Thespian art, 

Appears this night to take a daughter's part, 

That all her powers of filial love engage 

To prove the comfort of a Father's age ; 

Hearts form'd as yours can such endearments boast, 

And those who feel them can applaud them most." 

Mr. Atkinson then appeals to public favor for u a 
female bard." 

" Amongst you born 'tis yours to muse and raise 
These brilliant talents which enhance your praise, 
To you she gives this tribute of her muse 
Though vainly tempted Briton's stage to choose, 
By Erin's harp which love and fancy strung 
She bade her verse be tun'd and numbers sung. 
Thus the musician, and the bard inspire, 
To rouse your powers, and fan your native fire, 
As the Wild Irish Girl her spirit tries, 
To bid your ancient fame and genius rise, 
To guard with patriot zeal your sainted isle, 
Where love and beauty round the graces smile, 
And prove, though prejudice abroad may roam, 
We seldom find the worth we leave at home. 
She to your candour then submits her cause 
So judge with mercy — not dramatic laws ; 
What piece is perfect ? None from faults exempt, 
Then pray encourage this, her ' First Attempt.' 
Her next endeavour more renown may sue — 
Prove more deserving of yourself and you. 
Snakes in the grass may hiss, and critics hector, 
But she's a woman and you'll all protect her !" 

The story of the ce First Attempt, or the 'Whim of 
the Moment/' is Spanish, and the scene is laid on 
the coast of Biscay, near an ancient castle, occupied 
by the Marquis de las Cisternes, and a fair girl 
named Elvira, who, when an infant, had been found 
on the adjacent rocks. The marquis becomes so en- 
thusiastically fond of her, that he treats his own 
daughter, JN'icholetta, with extreme coldness, and she 



leaves lier home. Two young students, Alonzo and 
Orlando, have retired to the mountainous recesses of 
the Sierra Morena, to await the consequences of a 
duel. Alonzo arrives at the conclusion that Elvira 
must be his sister, who had been lost by shipwreck 
upon that coast. The students are informed, through 
the garrulity of Pedro, a servant to the grandee, that 
two professors are expected at the castle, for the pur- 
pose of instructing Elvira in some suitable accom- 
plishments. This offers a good opportunity for gain- 
ing admittance, and Orlando and his servant, 
O'Driscoll (Owenson), a facetious Irishman, assume 
collegiate gowns, and are introduced to the marquis, 
who, after a time, suspects how the land lies, and 
turns them out in disgrace. Orlando returns by 
means of a trap-door, and after a variety of amusing 
incidents, Elvira escapes, and marries her deliverer. 
Alonzo, in the meantime, has been making furious 
love to Nicholetta, who marries him, and Q'Driscoll, 
not wishing to be idle, takes to wife a certain Miss 
Flora, who acts a very confidential part as maid to 
Elvira. The piece opens with a chorus of fishermen 
rowing in boats towards the shore, which, the theatri- 
cal critics of the day tell us, had a highly picturesque 

" The Dublin Evening Post" of Thursday, March 
6th, records: — "Last night Miss Owenson' s opera 
was performed for the first time to a most brilliant 
and crowded audience, and received the greatest ap- 
plause. Mr. Owenson made his first appearance these 
nine years, and met with a most flattering reception." 
"The performers exerted themselves with becoming 
spirit/* says the ' Freeman's Journal { " Richard 
Jones in particular bustled through his part, and 
gave a mock Bravura with a portion of comicality 
which we did not expect. Mr. Owenson sustained 


the Irish character with his wonted success. He was 
received with great applause, and the peculiarity 
of the part which he filled secured him throughout 
the sympathy of the audience. The opera was re- 
ceived with repeated plaudits, and being announced 
by Mr. Owenson for a second representation, was 
welcomed without a dissentient voice." 6 The Cor- 
respondent' said : — u It is no small compliment to 
the talents of our countrywoman, Miss Owenson, 
and to the general estimation in which she is held, 
that so distinguished a mark of favour should have 
been bestowed on her, as the personal attention of 
the Viceroy at the Theatre, and the flattering encour- 
agement which his Excellency has given to the 
native talent of this kingdom is no less honourable 
in so distinguished a personage." 

In the midst of this general congratulation and 
jubilee, who should rush into the columns of the 
M Freeman's Journal" but Miss Owenson' s old foe, 
M. T. He was amazed to see the representative of 
royalty take by the hand that little girl whom he had 
sought to proscribe as a traitor to the king, a foe to 
God, and a Latitudinarian in morals. The views of 
the flippant critic seem to have undergone some 
modification from this moment. He went to the 
theatre to sneer, and he remained to stare. He was 
pleased with Miss Owen son's dramatic attempt. 
But let him speak for himself: — "In this instance I 
feel inclined to bestow more of praise than censure. 
Whether my placidness of disposition was occasioned 
by the harmonic influence of Mr. Cooke's excellent 
overture, the suddenness of the incidents, or the 
lively dialogues of the drama, I cannot now determine ; 
but this I must own, that the combination pro- 
duced an extremely pleasing entertainment." M. T. 
then proceeds, somewhat inconsistently, to criticize 



with a spice of the old leven. " The plot," we are 
told, " is not remarkable for either novelty, or interest. 
Mr. Owenson sang a very good song, but said a great 
deal which if not said, would have been better for the 
drama and the authoress." M. T. concludes, "It 
may damp the pleasure which Miss Owenson' s friends 
would otherwise derive from my approbation, to hear, 
that ' The Wild Irish Girl' is not forgotten. Some 
circumstances have hitherto prevented a continuation 
of my former critical observations upon that subject, 
which will be immediately resumed." 

They were not resumed, however, and the file of 
the "Freeman" for 1807, may be vainly searched for 
any further lucubrations of his pen. The conclud- 
ing flourish was merely a piece of well known news- 
paper tactics, resorted to at a moment of difficulty, 
and when it is desirable to conceal the humiliation of 
a prudential retreat. M. T. raised a cloud of dust, 
which served at once to blind the eyes of his 
readers, and to enable him to escape behind it. 

" Tiie First Attempt" had a run of several nights, 
and a benefit was awarded to the authoress, which as 
Mr. Donaldson assures us, cleared four hundred 
pounds. The author of t€ Fifty Years of an Actor's 
Life," adds: — "The characters were sustained by 
Eichard Jones, J. Phillips, Fullam, H. Weston, Mrs. 
Stewart, and Mrs. T. Cooke, (late Miss Horsley). It 
was in this piece that the popular ballad of ' Kate 
Kearney' was originally sung." After each represen- 
tation of " The First Attempt," Owenson appeared 
in some comic afterpiece, such as, "The favourite 
Farce of the Register Office, or the Humours of 
Paddy O'Carroll, with a variety of Comic Songs by 
Mr. Owenson." 

On the 27th of May, 1807, he took a benefit, 
which helped to sustain for a little time longer the 



sinking fortunes of his counting house in Fleet Street. 
We quote from the theatric announcement of the 

"Mr. Owenson's night. On this evening, the 27th 
of May, 1807, will be presented a prelude, called, 
'The Irish Actor, or, the Recruiting Manager:' 
Phelim O'Guffinocarrollocarneymacfrane, (the Irish 
Actor) Mr. Owenson,- in which character he will 
sing first, a new characteristic song, written for the 
occasion, called, 'An Irishman all the World Over.'' 
And 'Drimunduh, or, the Poor Irishman's La- 
mentation for the Loss of his Cow/ To conclude 
with a ' Comic Occasional Address/ in the character 
of the Irish Actor, by Mr. Owenson ; after which 
will be performed a comedy, called the ' West 
Indian/ To which will be added, the admired 
opera of 'The Pirst Attempt/ Tickets to be had of 
Mr. Owenson, 15, Trinity Street." 

Among tho^e with wdiom Miss Owenson, at this 
period, associated in the fashionable Whig circles of 
Dublin, w r ere Curran, Grattan, Bushe, Plunket, the 
Tighes, Sir John Stevenson, and the Cramptons. 
Curran, Plunket, and Bushe, had just taken office, 
the first as Master of the Rolls, and the two latter as 
Attorney and Solicitor General under the Liberal 
administration of Lord Grenville. Lady Morgan, in 
adverting to this early period of her life, half a 
century afterwards, observed that " there was scarcely 
one of these truly illustrious names, (the illustration 
of Nature's highest letter patent of nobility,) who 
were not suspected of being suspicious adherents of 
the high-treason of anti-coercion. The wittiest man 
of his time, Charles Bushe, afterwards Chief- Justice 
of Ireland, and the member of a family whose talent 
was characterized as the Irish Esprit de Mortemart, 



was accused of being a United Irishman ; Curran was 
deemed something worse ! The " Tighes of Wood- 
stock/ 3 were stigmatized as the most unchangeful of 
Irish Whigs, and at that moment further illustrated 
by the genius and charms of the first and finest 
poetess of her own or perhaps any country, the 
author of " Psyche." As to the Plunkett— " The 
blood of Douglas will protect itself." Sheil was 
then only breaking the shell of his future out- 
burst of genius and patriotism : and North, who 
bore the sobriquet of the "Star of the West," 
then best known in the historical debating society of 
Dublin by his classical ovations, was foully suspected 
of being Irish likewise ! under which odium he 
entered the House of Commons shortly after. Sir 
John Stevenson was the first and best of Irish com- 
posers since the days of Carolan, and the founder of a 
school of singing quite original, and best illustrated 
in the musical recitations of Mr. Moore; the musical 
talents of his . two accomplished and beautiful 
daughters, the late Marchioness of Headfort, and 
Mrs. Lambert of Beau Park, still remembered with 
admiration in high circles of English taste and fash- 
ion ; and the rare gift of social agreeability of the 
Crampton family is still brilliantly illustrated in the 
person of the most eminent of its members, Sir 
Philip Crampton, Bart., the surgeon-general. Last 
and least of the " mere Irishry" drawn within the 
English pale of this truly delightful society, was an 
obscure girl, whose sole passport into circles so 
brilliant was that she had written an Irish tale, in 
the Irish interest ! sung Irish songs, translated by 
herself from Irish poems, and played the Irish harp, 
— " et Dieu sait la raclairie que c'etait." 

" It would be want of pride and gratitude," said 
Lady Morgan on another occasion, " not to boast of 


the advantages I derived from the attentions and 
hospitality of the distinguished families of Charlemont, 
Leitrim, Charleville, Cloncurry, and Tighe, on my 
first entree upon life and literature." 

The fair authoress, in 1807, favoured the public 
with a detail of the more exalted circumstances and 
motives which led to the origin of " The Wild Irish 
Girl." u I came," she goes on to say, " to the self- 
devoted task, with a diffidence proportioned to the 
ardour which instigated me to the attempt ; for as a 
woman, a young woman, and an Irishwoman, I felt 
all the delicacy of undertaking a work which had for 
the professed theme of its discussion, circumstances 
of national import, and national interest. But 
though I meant not to appear on the list of opposi- 
tion as a fairy amazon, armed with a pebble and a 
sling against a host of gigantic prejudices ; although 
to compose a national defence, to ward the shaft of 
opprobrium hurled at the character of my country, to 
extenuate the effects or expose the causes of its 
popular discontents, was as incompatible with my 
sex and years, as with my trivial talent and limited 
powers ; yet I was still aware that in the historic 
page, recent details, and existing circumstances of 
Irish story, lived many a record of Irish virtue, Irish 
genius, and Irish heroism, while the simplicity of 
truth alone was sufficient to delineate many a 
tale of pathos which woman's heart could warmest 
feel, and truest tell, and many a trait of romantic 
colouring and chivalrous refinement, which woman's 
fancy fondest contemplates and best depicts. 

" To blend the imaginary though probable inci- 
dent with the interesting fact, to authenticate the 
questioned refinement of ancient habits, by the testi- 
mony of living modes, faithfully to delineate what I 
had intimately observed, and to found my opinions on 



that medium which ever vibrates between the partial 
delineation of national prejudice, on one side, and the 
exaggerated details of foreign antipathy on the other ; 
such was the prospectus my wishes dared to draw. 
If I failed in their accomplishment, that failure arose 
from the mediocrity of very limited talents, which I 
soon found were inadequate to realize all my heart 
dictated, or my hopes conceived. The world, however, 
had the indulgence to tolerate the execution in favour 
of the motive, and the reception with which it 
honoured t The Wild Irish Girl/ was such as sur- 
passed my most sanguine expectations, and stimu- 
lated me to further exertion in that cause, which it is 
impossible to examine without interest, or to embrace 
without enthusiasm. Politics can never be a woman's 
science ; but patriotism must naturally be a woman's 
sentiment. It is inseparably connected with all those 
ties of tenderness which her heart is calculated to 
cherish, and though the energy of the citizen may 
not animate her feelings to acts of national heroism, 
the fondness of the child, the mistress, the wife and 
the mother, must warm and ennoble them into senti- 
ments of national affection. For myself, while my 
heart still triumphs in the principle which leads me 
to effuse over the world's ear the * native wood-notes 
wild' of my native country, I would wish it to be 
believed that I have ever swept the strings of the 
Irish Harp, with the tremulous touch of conscious 
inability ; that in humbly endeavouring to revive the 
faded shamrock, that which droops round my country's 
emblem, I have ever brought to the grateful effort, 
an anxious hope, rather than a sanguine expectation 
of success ; and that in touching on the grievances 
of the lower orders of my countrymen, and their 
fatal but consequent effects, unswayed by interest, 
unbiassed by partiality, the hope of wooing the 



attention of abler minds to a subject on which my 
own has long dwelt with ineffectual anxiety, and 
unavailing regret, has been the sole motive of the 
feeble efforts, I now humbly submit to the world's 

The success of " The Wild Irish Girl" was almost 
unprecedented. In less than two years it ran through 
seven editions in Great Britain, and its permanence 
of popularity was doubly attested a few years ago, by 
Mr. Colburn reprinting it among his Standard 
Novels, and Mr. Bryce republishing it in a cheap 
form for Railway reading. 

That nothing else was spoken of in the fashionable 
circles of Dublin half a century ago, is evident from 
the numerous advertisements of "The Glorvina 
Mantle," and "Glorvina Ornament," with which the 
local journals abound. " Hearing that an attempt 
has been made," observes one of them, " to imitate 
the Glorvina Ornament, honoured by the patronage 
of her Grace the Duchess of Bedford, and which 
Brush and Son have her Grace's permission to 
announce, they beg to request the various assort- 
ments, with which they are now constantly supplied, 
may be viewed previous to the adoption of any 
other ; when the native correctness of that Ornament 
will best evince to the eye of taste and judgment its 

If " The Wild Irish Girl" had many beauties, it 
had also some faults. Sir Jonah Barrington thus 
blows hot and cold upon it : " Though a fiction not 
free from some inaccuracies, much inappropriate 
dialogue, and forced incident, it is impossible to 
peruse 'The Wild Irish Girl' of Lady Morgan, 
without deep interest, or to dispute its claims as a 
production of true national feeling as well as literary 
talent. That tale is perhaps the best of all her 



novel writings. Compared with others, it strikingly 
exhibits the author's falling off from the simple 
touches of unsophisticated nature to the less refined 
conceptions of what she herself styles e fashionable 
society/ " 

" The Wild Irish Girl" contained many portraits, 
drawn upon the spot from real life. Amongst others, 
was Denis Hampson, the Blind Bard of Macgilligan, 
who died shortly after at the age of one hundred 
and ten. His death is recorded in the " Gentleman's 
Magazine," vol. lxxvii., p. 1232. 

The patronage bestowed by the Duke and Duchess 
of Bedford on Sydney Owen-son was brought to an 
abrupt termination, on April the 19th, 1807, by the 
downfall of the Portland administration, and the re- 
moval of their Excellencies from Ireland. By the 
Irish Liberal Politicians of that day, this administra- 
tive change was deeply deplored. The Government 
fell from no other reason than its refusal to abandon 
the Catholic cause. Miss Owenson, as events after- 
wards turned out, saw no reason to continue that 
feeling of regret, with which she had been filled by 
the departure of her noble, kind, and influential 
patrons. The Duke of Bedford was succeeded by the 
convivial Charles, Duke of Richmond, who not only 
showed Sydney Owenson every ordinary mark of 
courtesy and patronage, but went so far as to knight 
her husband and brother-in-law. 

Soon after the publication of " The Wild Irish 
Girl/' Miss Owenson made a short tour in England, 
where the terms of reproach and contempt in which 
her country was generally spoken of, induced the 
spirited young Irishwoman to devote her best energies 
to the compilation of such a mass of evidence as 
could not fail to arrest attention and have a forcible 
tendency in producing opposite impressions. 


In 1807, appeared two volumes of "Patriotic 
Sketches, written in Connaught by Miss Owenson." 
Let us trace her movements from this book. 

"I left Dublin in the autumn of 1806/' she tells 
us, " with the intention of rambling through such 
scenes in the north-west of Connaught as I had 
not yet visited ; and it was here my little journey 
began to receive its first decided character of interest ; 
it was here that the impression made on my imagin- 
ation insensibly communicated to memory the first 
of those rough sketches which, divested of the 
delicate pencil, touch the pentimenti (to use a tech- 
nical phrase) of studied art and practised judgment. 
I have copied with the same rude simplicity with 
which they were drawn in the moment of passing 
observation, as the heart was touched by objects of 
moral interest, or the fancy awakened by scenes of 
natural beauty. I had watched the last beam of 
the setting sun stealing his faded splendours from 
the last of those lakes which precede the entrance of 
the cavern -path, and the broken and irregular masses 
of rock which arose pyramidically on either side, 
partially caught the retreating glow of the horizon, 
and displayed the greatest variety of light and 
shadow, till gradually opening, a rich and expansive 
prospect broke on the eye ; the lakes and fairy land 
of Hazle-wood, the bold attitude of Benbubin, the 
beetling brow of Knock-na-bee, the ocean's gleaming 
line, commingling with the horizon, and the town of 
Sligo spreading irregularly along the base of a lofty 
hill, crowned with meadows, and successively be- 
trayed by the expanding view ; till the softening in- 
fluence of twilight mellowed every outline into air, 
and dissolved every object into one mild and indis- 
tinct hue."" 

Many additional pages are devoted to Sligo and 



its grey old Abbey. That tendency to regard, ever 
after, with an undue importance, localities first 
known, and revered in childhood, is traceable in Miss 
Owenson' s remarks. It is absurd to compare Sligo 
in any one particular to Babylon or Thebes ; and 
yet the first chapter of her " Patriotic Sketches" 
contains such comparisons. Notwithstanding this 
puerility, however, there are many remarkably sound 
political suggestions, and numberless truly beautiful 
pictures of local scenery in the book — marred here 
and there perhaps by a few tinges of sectarian pre- 
judice, which Sydney had imbibed from the essentially 
puritanic atmosphere with which her infancy was 
surrounded. The generous motive, however, which 
led Miss Owenson to undertake this work, arrests 
attention in every chapter and demands respectful 
acknowledgment. By such passages as the follow- 
ing, which are selected from many others of a similar 
tone and aim, Miss Owenson enlisted a wide spread 
feeling of sympathy on behalf of her destitute and 
degraded fellow-countrymen. 

" When the strained eye of sorrowing affection has 
followed the father and the husband, even till fancy 
gives what distance snatches from its view, the mo- 
ther closes the door of her desolate cabin; and when 
(as is generally the case) her family are too helpless 
to relinquish her maternal cares and enable her to 
work, followed by her little children, and frequently 
by an aged parent, beggary is embraced as the only 
alternative to want and famine. Sometimes with an 
infant on her back, and another in her arms, (while 
the ablest of her little train is always charged with 
the tin vessel which carries the sour milk supplied by 
charity, and another infant wanderer sustains the 
weight of the blanket which constitutes the only 
covering thrown over them at night), she commences 



her sad and solitary wanderings. How frequently, 
and in what opposite seasons, have I beheld these 
helpless and wretched groups straggling along the 
high roads, or reposing their wearied limbs beneath 
the shelter of a ditch ! I have seen the feet of the 
heavily-laden mother totter through winter snows 
beneath her tender burthen : while the frost bitten 
limbs of her infant companions drew tears to their 
eyes, which in the happy thoughtlessness of childhood 
had never been shed to the unconscious misery of 
their situation, had not bodily pain taught them to 
flow. I have met them wandering over those heaths, 
which afforded no shelter to their aching brows, 
amidst the meridian ardours of a summer's day; 
when violent heat and insupportable fatigue, ren- 
dered the stream they stopped to drink a luxury the 
most exquisite. I have met them at the door of 
magisterial power, and seen them spurned from its 
threshold by him who should have redressed their 
grievances or relieved their wants ; and I have seen 
them cheerfully received into the cabin of an equally 
humble, but more fortunate compatriot, where their 
wants were a recommendation to benevolence, and 
their number no check to its exertion. For never 
yet was the door of an Irish cabin closed against the 
suppliant w T ho appealed to the humanity of its owner." 

The authoress did not trust to mere hearsay for 
her impressions. She conversed personally with the 
peasantry, and committed verbatim to her tablets, 
an interesting selection from the dialogues which 
took place between them on these occasions. The 
plan of the work is original, and contains much 
novel interest. Sparkles of diamond wit, gushes of 
unctuous humour, and soarings of high poetic thought, 
are made to relieve, artistically and alternately, 
various harrowing details of grim reality. The 



whole bears evidence of considerable erudition and 
reading. It is somewhat surprising how Miss Owen- 
son could have acquired so intimate a familiarity 
with such miscellaneous literature as Giraldus Cam- 
brensis, Verulam, Ware, Harris, Burke, Valancey, 
Voltaire, Allemande, Stainhurst, Helvetius, Montes- 
quieu, Coke, Johnson, Chandler, Walker, Davis 
and Young. And jet, every second page contains 
references to the writings of these authors. Of foot 
notes we have what many readers would be inclined 
to regard as more than enough. Every " Sketch" 
abounds with them ; and it would seem that the 
fair author had .yet to learn that such illustrations, 
except when unavoidable, completely break the 
flowing beauty, and encumber the sense of literary 
composition. The reader, in the midst of the most 
beautiful details, is suddenly hurled to the bottom 
of the page by a falling star. The matter thus un- 
artistically obtruded might easily have been embodied, 
with good effect, in the text. The eye compelled 
perpetually to desert the page for an extraneous 
foot-note, and then to rise again unrefreshed, becomes 
after a while fatigued ; but these and other imper- 
fections to which we have alluded, were all corrected 
by Lady Morgan, when experience and reading had 
matured her judgment. 

These pages have been written to little purpose, how- 
ever, if the reader has failed to see that, even at the 
present early epoch of her life, Sydney Owenson 
possessed considerable intellectual power. Among 
other qualities rarely enjoyed by the softer sex, she 
exercised a singular facility in analytically drawing 
from present political premises, strikingly accurate 
political conclusions. Tithes, which more than 
twenty years afterwards excited so powerful a sen- 
sation as the monster grievance of Ireland, received 

l 2 


their first blow in this unpretending volume of Miss 
Owenson's. The views expressed, and the language 
which clothes them, are sound, eloquent, and 
vigorous. In her Ninth Sketch, Miss Owenson, 
" with a lady's hand but a lion's heart/' probes 
to the bottom, like an experienced surgeon, the 
festering germ of disturbance which then agitated 
Connaught, under the auspices of " the Thrashers." 
Suffice it to say that they sprang from the same 
cause which nearly thirty years after ensanguined 
the plains of Gortroe ; Carrickshock, Dunmanway 
Castlepollard, and Newtownbarry. But as this 
subject has been since tolerably well exhausted, and 
is not, in truth, a very inviting one, we prefer to 
follow Sydney Owenson on some of her Connaught 
excursions in search of the picturesque. 

The Eleventh Sketch opens with an account of 
the traditions of Tyreragh and Tyrawley, and an 
eloquent allusion to her friend, and as she would 
always have it, her kinsman Sir Malby Crofton. 
" My heart had long owed a pilgrimage to this remote 
and little known barony," she writes, " for it was 
the residence of the dear and respected friend for 
whom that heart had long throbbed with an invari- 
able pulse of gratitude, tenderness and affection." Fur- 
ther on she adds : — " L house, the ancient family- 
seat of Sir M C , Bart., was the goal of 

my little journey, and I reached its venerable avenue 
at a season of the day peculiarly favourable to the 
soft chiaro-oscuro of picturesque beauty : with the 
old gloomy avenue of an ancient mansion-seat, there 
is, I think, invariably connected a certain sentiment 
which bears the heart back to c other times/ and 
awakens it to an emotion of tender reverence, and 
melancholy pleasure. For myself, I have never 
walked beneath its interwoven branches uninfluenced 



by a certain feeling, in which memory's pensive spell 
mingled with the speculations of awakened fancy." 

We are informed by the present Sir Malby Crofton 
Bart.* that a large portion of "The Wild Irish Girl" 
and the entire of " The Patriotic Sketches/' were com- 
posed at Longford House, the family seat of his 
ancestors. Miss Owenson thus describes this now 
historic spot. "The lands and demesne of L— lie 
almost along the shores of the Atlantic ocean, and 
immediately beneath the shelter of Knockachree, from 
whose rugged base swells the lesser chain of the Ox 
mountains, whose sides were once covered with 
luxuriant woods, and from whose towering summit 
rush innumerable torrents, which lessening into 
streams in their deep descent, water the plains be- 
neath, and flow into the ocean. The shores on the 
other side of the bay are romantic and striking ; the 
beautiful peninsula of Tandsago, intervenes its culti- 
vated landscapes, and most happily breaks the view, 
while the rude dashing of the waves against the bar, 
lends an effective sound ; and the back scenery 
afforded by the mountains, wears a character of 
wildness and sublimity." 

Miss Owenson's tastes and tendencies were singu- 
larly and essentially Celtic. She regretted, among 
.other refined national grievances, that the harpers, 
the original composers and depositories of the music 
of Ireland, should have ceased to be cherished and 
retained by its nobility and gentry. She sorrowed 
to see that the warm ardent spirit of national enthu- 

* Letter from Sir M. Crofton Bart. November 26th, 1859. 
Sir Malby adds, in reply to a query, that no trace of Miss 
Owenson's correspondence with his grandfather exist, owing to 
a great fire which totally destroyed Longford House many years 
ago. Sir Malby is not aware of any relationship between his 
family and the Owensons. 


siasm, which had hung delighted on the song of 
national melody, to which many an associated idea, 
many an endeared feeling, lent their superadded 
charm, should have faded into apathy, and that 
neither the native strain, nor the native sentiment 
which gave it soul, touched any longer on the spring 
of national sensibility, or awakened the dormant 
energy of national taste. 

The second volume of " The Patriotic Sketches" 
concludes with an amusing description of Thaddeus 
Conriellan, who as "the Apostle of Lower Con- 
naught," and an Irish translator of some ability, 
acquired notoriety at a later period. " My rambles 
and frequent conversations with the peasantry in the 
neighbourhood of L— House," writes Miss Owen- 
son, "have obtained me a degree of rustic notoriety to 
which I stand indebted for a visit from Mr. Thady 
O'Connellan, a school-master, highly esteemed and 
looked up to by his rural disciples." Mr. Connellan 
introduced himself to Miss Owenson by saying that 
having heard she was fond of Irish composition, he 
wished to submit some of the Poems of Ossian which 
were much at her service. " The Irish," he added, 
"is the finest tongue in the world, the English can 
never come near it, and the Greek alone is worthy 
of being compared to it." He then with great en- 
thusiasm, repeated the description of Fionas Shield in 
Irish, and Homer's description of the QSgis of Achilles 
giving the preference to the former; and Ossian's 
account of his father's hounds, was, he contended, 
superior to the dogs of Ovid. Connellan declared 
his intention of translating the Eneid and 
Terence into Irish. "When I complimented him 
on the extent of his erudition," writes Miss Owen- 
son, "and expressed my astonishment at his having 
acquired it in so remote a situation, he replied : 



c Young lady, T went far and near for it, as many a 
poor scholar did before me : for I could construe 
Homer before I ever put on shoe or stocking, aye, 
or a hat either/ When he was a young man (he 
said) there were but few schools in Connaught, and 
those few but bad : and it was not unusual for eight 
or ten boys ' who had the love of learning strong 
upon them/ to set off bare-footed and bare-headed 
to Munster, where the best schools were then held ; 
that they commenced their philosophic pilgrimage 
poor and friendless : but they begged their way, 
and that the name of poor scholar procured them 
every where friends and subsistence ; that having 
heard much of the celebrity of a school-master in 
the county of Clare, he and his adventurous com- 
panions directed their steps towards his seminary; 
'but/ added Thady 'it being a grazing country, 
and of course no hospitality to be found there 
(meaning that it was thinly inhabited), we could not 
get a spot to shelter our heads in the neighbourhood 
of the school, so being a tight set of Connaught 
boys, able and strong, we carried off the school-master 
one fine night, and never stopped till we landed him 
on the other side of the Shannon, when a priest gave 
us a house, and so we got learning and hospitality to 
boot, and the school-master made a great fortune in 
time, all Connaught flocking to him, and now here 
I am at the head of a fine Seminary myself/ " The 
Lyceum of this Sage was a miserable cabin on the 
side of a desolate road. In this hovel he taught 
Homer and Virgil to a select portion of his bare- 
footed pupils, and a solid course of instruction to 
all. Miss Owenson's object in devoting an entire 
chapter to this subject, was no doubt to shew the 
passionate love of letters, which has always charac- 
terised the native Irish. 



Miss Owenson mentions in this work, that she re- 
ceived much kind and hospitable attention from the 

family of Mr. of C House. The party to 

whom she alludes was, we understand, the late Mr. 
Ormsby of Commin House near Sligo. 

Erom the hour that little Sydney received the 
gracious attention of their Graces the Duke and 
Duchess of Bedford, she rose like a rocket in general 
estimation. By the fashionable world, her society 
was courted with avidity ; by the populous, whose 
cause she had so warmly espoused, she was idolized. 
The " Freeman's Journal" which had originally been 
somewhat prejudiced against her, observes, on 
November 6th, 1807 : "It may justly be said that 
this young lady is one of the greatest ornaments our 
country could ever boast of. She moves in the very 
highest circles, courted and admired, as well for her 
unrivalled talents, as her elegant and unaffected 
manners. She is realizing, we hear, a noble inde- 
pendence, by the exertion of her own cultivated and 
highly expanded mind, while places and pensions are 
bestowed on ' foul-mouthed railors' —enemies to the 
peace, the genius, and the virtues of our country." 

"Patriotic Sketches of Ireland," was followed by 
the " Lay of an Irish Harp, or Metrical Fragments," 
which contained many beautiful flashes of poetic 
thought and imagery. It was, we believe, in this 
book that the following lines occurred which furnish 
some insight into the idiosyncracies of the fair writer. 

Too ardent to be constant long, 

If love's wild rose I haply gathered, 
I scarcely breathed its fragrant bloom, 

When love's wild rose grew pale and withered. 

Miss Owenson's labours at this period were not 
alone varied, but of the most zealous, humane, and 



ennobling character. She did not selfishly reserve 
mental exertion for the highly successful and remun- 
erative volumes which yearly fell from her pen ; but 
through the medium of the public press, laboured in 
the generous cause of philanthropy and patriotism. 
Although her society was eagerly courted by the first 
circles in the metropolis-, she often left the salon 
or ball-room to perform some office of gracious 
charity. We now find her contributing letters to 
the "freeman's Journal/' occasionally. One dated 
November :22nd, 1807, we subjoin. "This letter/' 
wrote the editor, "regards a subject which is always 
welcome to an Irish mind. As the reader will per- 
ceive, it bears the signature of a lady well known in 
the literary and fashionable world." 

" Sir — While moral suffering is most acutely felt 
by minds of educated refinement, of native and 
acquired sensibility, human nature, in every state, in 
every stage, is alive to the keen pang of physical 
evil; and while the most perfect corporeal health is 
frequently found, united to the ' mind diseased/ the 
thrill of pain, which quivers through the suffering 
body, famishes the mind's repose, and blunts, or 
destroys its better faculties. In the sad list of ills, 
which ' flesh is heir to/ there are few more acute than 
that which severity of weather, c the jar of elements/ 
brings with it, to those whom poverty exposes to all 
the ' penalties of Adam.' If the couch of down, the 
carpet's velvet, the hearth's genial glow, the window's 
folded drapery, and all those comforts which luxury 
devises, and opulence bestows, cannot soften to the 
startled ear the tempest's blast, the thunder's roll — 
cannot shield from the delicate frame the sudden 
chill of piercing frost ; if a transient absence from 
the luxurious drawing-room (tho' but to step to a 


scarce less luxurious carriage) congeals every limb ; 
what must be their sufferings for whom no ray of 
hope beams, who, amidst the horrors of shipwieck, 
meet the most dreadful of deaths ; or perishing with 
cold and want on land, meet a more tedious, and 
scarce less pitiable destiny. 

"Along the snow-deep and half-deserted streets, 
behold the shivering mother, urged by the keenest 
necessity a mother's heart can feel, faintly appealing 
to the charity of the few who pass her, for a trifle to 
purchase a scanty portion of fuel for the little 
wretches, who in some loathsome corner pine for her 
return. Behold the noxious retreat of poverty — the 
miserable garret — its damp walls — its desolated air 
—its shattered windows, (but ill fitted to resist the 
keen blast, or drifting snow) in its remotest part half 
covered by a tattered blanket ; the sickly, decayed 
tradesman — the tender father vainly endeavours to 
communicate to his clinging offspring that comfort 
and that warmth, he has long ceased himself to feel. 
Glance into the wards of the Debtor's Prison — unbar 
the door of the untried delinquent's dungeon ; even 
there the horrors of imprisonment are sharpened by 
the season's severities ; these are no fancy pictures 
in this city— they are, at this moment, too sadly 
realized. It is unnecessary to say more, for when 
did misery raise her fainting voice, and find the 
Irish heart dead to her suppliant accents ? As the 
season seems to set in with a rigour ' not portentous 
of its end,' some effort of public benevolence might 
be opposed to the evil of the existing moment, or 
some plan suggested to obviate the sufferings of a 
future day. The purchase and distribution of fuel, 
after the manner adopted in the soup-kitchens some 
years back, might, perhaps, be found adequate to the 
removal of the chief distress the poor and indigent 



are likely to sustain, or some better plan may be 
suggested by the actively benevolent, more efficacious 
in its tendency. That f we always succeed when we 
wish to do good/ is an axiom advanced by a cele- 
brated French philosopher, and to which every good 
heart will bring the testimony of its own experience. 
In the present instance, therefore, while the principle 
of national benevolence lives so warmly in every Irish 
heart, the means of its successful execution cannot 
long remain an object of speculation to Irish minds." 

It is impossible to doubt the immense utility of 
which these appeals of Miss Ovvenson were produc- 
tive. The blessings of the poor, with an earnest 
prayer that heaven might grant a long and happy 
life to their benefactress, perpetually fell in whispers 
around her. 

Lady Morgan, in a letter to the author of these 
pages, in 1&55, alludes to some appeals on behalf of 
the little Sweeps in Dublin, which she threw off about 
the same time. It was not until full thirty years 
after, that the hapless condition of these unfortunate 
little creatures, was taken into serious consideration 
by the Legislature. So far back as 1807, Miss 
Owenson endeavoured to excite a feeling of sympa- 
thy in their behalf by such indirect appeals as the 
following, which we transcribe from the " Freeman's 
Journal/' of December 8, 1807. 

'Twas a keen frosty morn, and the snow heavy falling 
When a child of misfortune was thus sadly calling, 
" Sweep, sweep — I am cold ! and the snow very deep, 
pray take compassion on poor little sweep ! 

" Sweep, chimney, sweep !" 

The tears down his cheeks in fast drops were rolling, 
Unnoticed, unpitied, by those by him strolling ; 
Who frequently warn'd him at a distance to keep 
"While he cried — " Take compassion on poor little sweep ! 

M Sweep, chimney, sweep !" 



In vain he implored passing strangers for pity, 

They smil'd at his plaints, and they bantered his ditty : 

Humanity's offspring as yet lay asleep, 

Nor heard the sad wailings of poor little sweep ! 

" Sweep, chimney, sweep !" 

At the step of a door half froze and dejected, 
He sat down and grieved to be shunn'd and neglected ; 
When a kind hearted damsel by chance saw him weep, 
And resolv'd to befriend, yes, the poor little sweep ! 

u Sweep, chimney, sweep !" 

Unmindful of sneers to a neighbour's she led him, 
Warm'd his limbs by the fire and tenderly fed him : 
And, oh ! what delight did this fair maiden reap, 
When she found a lost brother in poor little sweep ! 

" Sweep, chimney, sweep !" 

With rapture she gaz'd on each black sooty feature, 
And hugged to her bosom the foul smelling creature, 
Who sav'd by a sister, no longer need creep, 
Through lanes, courts, and alleys, a poor little sweep ! 

" Sweep, chimney, sweep !" 

The avidity with which Miss Owen son's society- 
was now courted and secured, made considerable 
inroads on that leisure which had previously been 
employed to such admirable literary effect, and 
pecuniary advantage. For the next two years no 
work from her pen appeared. At length in 1809, 
" Woman, or, Ida of Athens/' a romance in four 
volumes, was published, containing many highly 
ornate descriptions of scenery, and individual por- 
traitures, with some situations possessing much 
romantic interest, and picturesque beauty ; but occa- 
sionally marred by the blemishes of taste which had 
marked the earlier writings of Miss Owenson. " Ida 
of Athens" became a temporary favourite, although 
some of the leading reviews did their best to damn it. 
The " Quarterly Review," in its first volume, singled 
it out for a savage onslaught. But this influential 



antagonism was perhaps an attestation of the impor- 
tance of the book. Even the lordly Byron con- 
descended to go out of his way for the purpose of 
reading a lecture to Miss Owenson on the subject of 
her Athenian heroine. The passage to which we 
allude may be found in one of the notes to "Childe 
Harold." " Ida of Athens" attained much ephe- 
meral popularity, but the impression which any 
reader who now opens it will probably retain is, that 
Lady Morgan is never so successful as when on Irish 

Such was the popularity of Miss Owenson at this 
period, that the lower orders of her countrymen 
looked upon her talents as of a very influential kind. 
" A poor fellow, a letter-carrier," writes one who 
knew our authoress well, " of good general character, 
the father of a large family, was induced, in a 
moment of extreme distress, to open a letter com- 
mitted to his charge, and to possess himself of a small 
sum of money, with the intention of restoring it in 
a few days to the owner. For this offence he was 
condemned to die. In the court in which he was 
tried, a scene of the deepest distress was exhibited by 
the presence and anguish of his aged father, his wife, 
and her helpless infants : but the crime was one of 
those which society never pardons. In such cases 
Cupidity and Apprehension are alike interested in 
striking terror, and Mercy and Hope must be silent at 
their bidding. Prom the gloom of the condemned 
cell this unfortunate criminal, like the drowning 
wretch who grasps at a straw, appealed to the 
imaginary influence of a popular writer, and the 
claim was irresistible to one whose domestic affec- 
tions were the mainspring of her being. On the 
receipt of his letter, Miss Owenson addressed herself 
to the different barristers of her acquaintance ; but 



the reply she received was uniform. The crime was 
unpardonable, the man's fate was sealed, and inter- 
ference could only expose her to mortification and 
defeat. Unintimidated by these dispiriting reports, 
she applied directly to Baron Smith, the presiding 
judge on the trial, who directed her to the foreman of 
the jury, with the promise, that if a recommendation 
to mercy could be procured from them, he would, in 
consequence of the conviction resting on circum- 
stantial evidence, back it with his sanction. Miss 
Owenson saw the foreman, induced him to assemble 
the jurymen, and to sign the recommendation. She 
then drew up a memorial to the Duke of llichmond, 
the head of the Irish government ; and, in one word, 
procured a commutation of the sentence to perpetual 
transportation. It is pleasurable to add, that on 
arriving at New South Wales, the reprieved man 
became an industrious and honest member of society; 
and supports his family in independence and comfort. 
A circumstance not dissimilar in its events, and even 
more romantic in the details, occured to Jenner, who 
was the means of saving a youth, condemned to 
certain death under the horrible form of perpetual 
slavery. The recollection of such anecdotes is a 
source of the purest satisfaction. They tend to raise 
the literary character; they do honour to human 
nature, and they relieve the dark shade which almost 
uniformly obscures the political history of the 

To the famous political and social reunions of the 
Marquis of Abercorn, at Stanmore Priory, Miss 
Owenson was now cordially invited. Stanmore, at 
the period of which we write, was a centre of politics 
and fashion ; and while similar receptions at its great 
rival, Holland House, wore an exclusively Whig 
complexion, those at Lord Abercorn's were of a much 



more mixed and general character. The social inter- 
course between chiefs of parties which subsisted at 
Stanmore Priory, contributed much to soften public 
and political asperities. Some of our author's 
writings not only received their inspiration at Stan- 
more, but were absolutely penned in the midst of the 
exalted circle of guests which the Marquis of Aber- 
corn had gathered around him. 

When we remember the savage ferocity with 
which Miss Owenson's national writings were assailed, 
from motives of party spite, it is not surprising that 
the promptings of her sensitive mind, should have 
led her to discontinue, for a short interval, works of 
a purely Irish character. In 1811, she presented 
the public with a three volume novel, called " The 
Missionary, an Indian Tale/' This work was written 
at Stanmore Priory; and not a few grave statesmen, 
disenthralled for a few weeks, from the cares and 
turmoil of office, louugingly abandoned themselves 
to the luxury of listening to Miss Owenson, as she 
read aloud her exciting and wildly romantic story. 
Among those present were Lord Aberdeen, Lord 
Castlereagh, Lord Eipon (then Mr. Robinson,) Lord 
Palmerston, the Duke of Devonshire; and on 
another similar occasion, the Princess of "Wales, the 
Due de Berri, and the ex-King of Sweden. It is a 
remarkable fact that Lord Castlereagh, then Secretary 
for Foreign Affairs, was so fascinated by the author, 
and her frail " Missionary/' that he offered to 
accompany the young authoress to town, and having 
sent for Mr. Stockdale of Pall Mall, the work was 
absolutely disposed of to that publisher for £400, in 
the study of Lord Castlereagh. The good nature of 
this distinguished statesman was the more remark- 
able as Lady Morgan had repeatedly, and forcibly, 
denounced the Legislative Union, of which he was the 


chief director, as corrupt and calamitous, atrocious in 
its principle, and abominable in its means. 

" The Missionary" is open to objection, but is so 
improbable that it can hardly be deemed a dangerous 
novel. It is, in many parts, very rhapsodical ; but 
the fanlt is, in some degree, attributable to the 
motley suggestions which the distinguished guests at 
Stanmore urged, and many of which the authoress, 
in compliment to her influential friends, laughingly 
adopted. The salient points of the narrative are, if 
we remember rightly, these. The Missionary is a 
Spanish priest, wdio repairs to India with a view to 
effect conversions to the church, of which he is 
himself a zealous and an able minister. Great 
success attends his labours at first, but in an evil 
hour, a Hindoo lady of surpassing beauty, whom he 
had addressed in the language of fraternal charity, 
brings her rich black eyes, charged with subduing 
amatory power, to bear, with deadly aim, upon 4 him. 
The struggle between duty and inclination which 
follows, is in the highest degree terrific. In the 
course of a short time the lady is borne to eternity by 
an epidemic fever. Even the bed of death does not 
allay the unholy torment which rages within the 
Missionary's breast. He casts away his breviary and 
stole, and lives a sort of anchoritic life in the recesses 
of a gloomy cave for her sake. Eschewing scull and 
crucifix, his sole companion is a pet fawn, which had 
once belonged, and had been often caressed by the 
beautiful Luxima. How the ideal priest ended his 
days we do not now remember, nor is it of much 
consequence; but our impression is distinct that no 
good moral in conclusion attempts to palliate the 
sundry objectionable details through which the reader 
has been dragged. We should not have paused to notice 
at such length, a book worthy only of the Minerva 



press, were it not that Lady Morgan herself, to the 
last moment of her life, attached some importance to 
it, although laughing airily enough at the wild 
romance and puerilities of the story. She considered 
that the picture it presented of Indian life, and some 
interesting oriental lore which it unfolded, pos- 
sessed a certain didactic attraction, which far and 
away more than counterbalanced the defects of the 
story. That such was Lady Morgan's deliberate 
opinion, even after the lapse of forty years, w^e have the 
most conclusive evidence in the singular fact, that the 
veteran authoress had been engaged just before her 
death in completely remodelling the " Missionary/' 
and in superintending its revision through the press. 
Lady Morgan considered that the Indian details with 
which the "Missionary" abounded, possessed for 
obvious reasons peculiar interest at that moment. 
When this romance was first published half a cen- 
tury ago, the East was very generally used as a 
tabula rasa for fictions of a didactic and romantic 
kind ; but we might almost as justly expect that 
people would study Eassellas in order to learn the 
history and politics of Abyssinia, as to hope to 
gather accurate information regarding the state of 
India from this unworthy Missionary's escapades. 
Through the medium of " Luxima, the Prophetess ; a 
Tale of India," they have been reproduced in a 
modified shape, within the last few months, and those 
who desire to read the narrative we have outlined, 
can do so at any circulating library. 

In the list of distinguished persons at Stanmore 
during the period of Miss Owenson's sojourn there, 
we omitted to mention the name of Sir Thomas 
Lawrence, with whom she remained ever after on 
terms of warm cordiality. A characteristic portrait of 
Miss Owenson, from the pencil of Lawrence, taken at 



the place and period in question, lies before us as we 
write. Leaning back on a fauteuil with an appear- 
ance of enjoyment and thorough nonchalance, she is 
dressed in a white robe, with short petticoats, and 
a shorter waist ; her forehead almost entirely con- 
cealed by falling ringlets. " How pleasantly/' writes 
Hepworth Dixon, " she described the days of Aber- ' 
corn Priory, and of Lady Cork's ( blue parties/ where 
she starred it as a lioness, after the Thraies and 
Burneys of a past dynasty had vanished from the 
scene ! These things made her historical, and Lady 
Morgan was to society and literature something of 
what the Great Duke had been to state-craft and war." 
"Lady Morgan's anecdotes of this brilliant period of 
her varied life," observes one who knew her well, 
"were told with a gracefulness and tact always 
favourable to the illustrious persons with whom she 
w r as then associated, and if she much extenuated she 
' set down nought in malice.' " 

We now approach the most important period in 
the domestic life of Miss Owenson. Mr. T. C 
Morgan was a surgeon and general medical practi- 
tioner in an English provincial town. The late 
Marquis of Abercorn in passing through it, en route 
for Tyrone, from his Scottish seat, Dudingstone 
House, Edinburgh, met with an accident which 
threatened dangerous results, and Surgeon Morgan 
was sent for. The Doctor was promptly in attend- 
ance, and for more than a week he remained night 
and day beside the noble patient's couch. Under 
the skilful treatment of Mr. Morgan, the Marquis at 
length became rapidly convalescent. He felt sin- 
cerely grateful to the young physician for his assi- 
duous and efficient attention : and invited him on a 
visit to his Irish seat at Baron's Court, County of 
Tyrone, where the Marchioness was about to organ- 



ize some splendid fetes champetres. The invitation 
was accepted. Anne, Marchioness of Abercorn, had 
a select circle of guests on a visit at the house, and 
amongst the number Miss Owenson. Mr. Morgan 
was a widower, but more literary and romantic and 
juvenile than the generality of widowers : a congeni- 
ality of taste brought him and the young authoress 
into frequent conversation. Time passed swiftly and 
gaily, but in the midst of this festivity and frolic a 
letter arrived, announcing the dangerous illness of 
Robert Owenson, and summoning his daughter 
Sydney to Dublin. With weeping eyes, and a 
aching heart— but not on Morgan's account — she 
bade the young widower a hurried adieu. Owenson 
made a short rally and survived until May, 1812. 
Surgeon Morgan, in the mean time, with a smitten 
heart followed Miss Sydney Owenson to Dublin ; 
and persecuted her with declarations of the love 
which filled him to distraction. The popular Duke 
of Richmond invited the authoress and Mr. Morgan, 
to one of the private balls at the Viceregal Court. 
His Excellency, in the course of a lounging conver- 
sation with Miss Owenson, playfully alluded to the 
matrimonial report w r hich had begun to be bruited 
about, and expressed a hope to have the pleasure, 
at no distant day, of congratulating her on her 
marriage. " The rumour respecting Mr. Morgan's 
devouement," she replied, " may or may not be 
true, but this I can at least with all candour and 
sincerity assure your Grace, that I shall remain to 
the last day of my life in single blessedness, unless 
some more tempting inducement then the mere 
change from Miss Owenson, to Mistress Morgan be 
offered me." The hint was taken and Charles, Duke 
of Richmond, in virtue of the powers of his office, 
knighted Surgeon Morgan upon the spot. 

M 2 



Leaving her father in improved health, Miss 
Owenson accepted the renewed invitation of the 
Marchioness of Abercorn, and returned to Baron's 
Court. In the " Gentleman's Magazine" of the 
day we read, " January 20th 1812, at Baron's 
Court, Tyrone, Sir C. T. Morgan, of London, to 
Sydney, eldest daughter of the veteran Irish Comedian 
Owenson, and author of ( The Wild Irish Girl/ and 
' Woman, or Ida of Athens/ " 

In connection with this desirable and happy 
alliance, there is an interesting and romantic, though 
very painful incident to be related. It is not 
by any means generally known, and we are indebted 
to the courtesy of Sir J. Emerson Tennent for 
having communicated it. We shall give the details 
in the words of that highly distinguished person. 
Speaking of Lady Morgan who dined at Sir Emerson's 
table a very short period previous to her death, he 
observes : 

" One great tie between her and my family was 
the affection with which she regarded a mutual 
friend, many years dead, the late Major Crossley of 
Glenburn, near Belfast. And on the occasion I 
am now alluding to, Lady Morgan, during dinner, 
told me, for the first time, the story of their early 
intimacy. Major Crossley's family lived at Lisburn, 
where she became acquainted with him, . when her 
father was on one of his professional tours, in the 
North of Ireland. She was then very young, and 
Crossley who was younger still, became so attached 
to her as to offer marriage. She told me she would 
have accepted him at once, but that neither of them 
could boast of possessing a single shilling, and the 
result was a prospective engagement, to be realized 
only so soon as means were apparent for their future 
subsistence. To devise this, she suggested as a 



career, that an application should be made to the 
Marquis of Hertford for a cadetship in the Indian 
army, and as Crossley's family had some local claims, 
their request was successful, and he was speedily 
appointed to a regiment, in the Presidency of 

" The correspondence continued for some years ; 
though so interruptedly, that a considerable sus- 
pension took place, during which the lady's position 
and prospects had been uniformly rising, and her 
marriage was at length solemnized with Sir Charles 
Morgan, the ceremony having taken place at Baron's 
Court, the residence of Lord Abercorn, in the 
County Tyrone. On the morning of the wedding, 
the post arrived before the procession to the Church, 
and the sister of the bride took charge of her letters 
for Miss Owenson. These she opened on her return 
to the house ; and amongst them was one from 
Crossley, accounting for his long silence by the 
anxieties of a period of uncertainty, which had now 
ended by his receiving some promotion in the army, 
and a staff appointment in the service of the Nizam. 
This was the long looked for point in his career, and 
having at last attained independence, he wrote to 
claim the performance of their early engagement, and 
propose an immediate union. 

"The old lady told me this little novel— her anima- 
tion heightened, at once by the romance and the 
reality of the story, and its recollection is enhanced 
to me by this having been one of the liveliest, 
as it w r as the last interview I ever had with Lady 

* Letter from Sir J. Emerson Tennent to the Author, September 
12th, 1859. We are fond of dates, and have accordingly obtained 
from the East India House, the following particulars regarding 
Captain Crossley's first commission and subsequent promotion 



Lady Morgan would probably never have reached 
that great literary^ pre-eminence and celebrity, in 
the midst of which her days closed, were it not for her 
alliance with Sir Charles Morgan. She has repeated- 
ly confessed the advantages which her mind and 
writings derived from his literary counsel and co-opera- 
tion, and so lately as in Mr. Bryce's 'Railway Edition 
of her " Wild Irish Girl/' the ' veteran authoress 
earnestly alludes to " the long and ennobling com- 
panionship with the great and cultivated intellect of 
one who taught and prized truth above all human 
good, and proclaimed it at the expense of all worldly 
interests — such were the advantages of a more ma- 
ture life ; such were the bright sources which threw 
in " new lights through chinks, which time had 

Thomas Charles Morgan first saw the light 
in 1783, and was therefore the junior of his wife by 
eight years. He was the only son of Mr. John Morgan 
of Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury, who observing great 
intellectual promise in his son, spared no expense in 
procuring for him the benefits of a first class educa- 
tion. He first studied at Eton and the Charter 
House ; at the age of eighteen he entered St. Peter's 
College, Cambridge, distinguished himself as a Greek 
scholar and a metaphysician, graduated as a Bachelor 
of Medicine in 1804, and obtained a medical diploma 
in 1809. Sir Thomas Charles Morgan, married first 
the daughter of Mr. William Hammond of Queen's 
Square, and by this lady he had one child, Anne 
Hammond Morgan, who married in 1828, the late 
Colonel St. John Blacker, and secondly, 30th April 

l i He arrived in India J 3th November, 1806. Ensign, 4th January, 
1807. Lieutenant, 5th September, 3 811. Captain, 1st May, 
1824. Retired from the service 4th January, 1836. Died, 18th 
September, 1846."-— Ed. 



1845., the Hon. George Browne, son of James, Lord 

The pleasure which filled Robert Owenson at the 
happy alliance of his daughter with Sir Charles 
Morgan, was of sadly short duration. In the Dublin 
newspapers of May 28th, 1812, we find his death an- 
nounced with many earnest expressions of regret. 
The " Freeman" mentions, with other interesting 
facts, that " the revival of Irish Music within these 
last thirty years was entirely owing to his exertions, 
and his exquisite mode of singing his native airs, 
with their original words both in public and private. 
He was passionately fond of literature, and was well 
known as the protector of many young Irishmen of 
more talents than prudence. His conduct as a 
father (having early lost his wife), went far beyond 
the common line of parental duty and tenderness — 
his public life considered, it was unexampled." An- 
other writer says : " ' Alas ! poor Yorick, I knew hin 
well/ We might quote the whole of this beautiful 
passage from Shakspeare, as illustrative of the merits 
and talents of the gentleman who has lately paid the 
debt to nature, and whose public and private charac- 
ter deserves our greatest eulogium. We may say 
in honour of our country, that he was a true born 
Irishman, with all its native honour and goodness of 
heart. On the stage, none surpassed him in the 
Milesian walk, and the house often resounded with 
encores for the repetition of his songs, which always 
set the audience in a roar." 

Owenson died at 44, North Great George^ s Street, 
at the residence of his son-in-law, Sir Arthur Clarke, 
M.D. who in 1808, had led Miss Olivia Owenson to the 
hymeneal altar. Having, in 1811, cured .the Duke of 
Richmond of a cutaneous disease, Dr. Clarke received 
the honour of Knighthood, and the freedom of the 



City of Dublin. In 1820 be established The Medicated 
Bathing Institution, No. 18, Lower Temple Street, 
which continued open to a comparatively recent period, 
and was productive of very beneficial results to suffering 
humanity. Sir Arthur always enjoyed a pun, and 
used sometimes call himself the Knight of the Bath. 
Although as small as Tom Moore, he loved to take 
the arm of Judge Day in the street, a man of colos- 
sal frame. The pair were, on one occasion, likened 
to the twenty-first of June, inasmuch as they jointly 
constituted the longest day and the shortest knight. 

Sir Arthur published various medical treatises of 
much ability, including works on tubercular con- 
sumption, water, exercise, and diet. He was a 
strong advocate for the hydropathic system of 
medical treatment, and often had to bear many a 
stupid sneer from those who pertinaciously adhered 
to the old school and shut their eyes against convic- 
tion. Among those who laughed at the water cure 
was Charles Lamb. "There is nothing new or won- 
derful in it," he said dryly, " it is as old as the 
deluge, and in my opinion has killed more than it 

It was not until the publication of " O'Donnel, a 
National Tale," on March 1st, 1814, that Lady Mor- 
gan's claims to take her place among the best 
novelists of the age became cordially and universally 
recognised by the public. The authoress, as we have 
said, was never so thoroughly at home as when on 
Irish ground ; and in illustration of this fact, the no- 
vels of " O'Donnel," " Florence McCarthy," and " The 
O'Briens and O'Mahertys," are eminently conclusive. 
These three essentially Irish tales — green from cover 
to cover, and racy of the soil— form a national 
literary shamrock, of wdiich Ireland may well be 



111 the novel of " O'Donnel/' Lady Morgan broke 
new ground. She ceased to guide the adventures of 
puerile novices of St. Dominick, crude Idas of 
Athens, and frail Spanish missionaries in India. 
O^Donnel was the vanguard of a host of Celtic ideal 
creations, profitable to study and worthy to imitate, 
which tended, in no small degree, to break down, the 
Cockney prejudices which had so long existed, on 
the other side of the Channel, against Ireland. This 
novel displayed singular vigour of thought, and 
knowledge of mankind ; and whether we laugh at 
the native eccentricities of M'Rory, sigh for the 
vicissitudes of the gallant O'Donnel, or smile at the 
lavish nothingness of fashionable life, we must ac- 
knowledge that we are under the influence of a spell 
with which true genius alone could invest us. 

Having determined upon taking Ireland as her 
theme, she had sought in its records and chronicles 
for the ground- work of a story, and the character of 
a hero. The romantic adventures and unsubdued 
valour of O^Donnel the Red, Chief of Tirconnel, in 
the reign of Elizabeth, seemed at the first glance 
happily adapted to her purpose. At Baron's Court, 
Tyrone, the Irish seat of Lord Abercorn, a great 
portion of her work was written. Throughout the 
year 1812, we find Lady Morgan in correspondence 
with the late William Monck Mason, a man of con- 
siderable Celtic erudition, on the subject of her 
magnum opus. These interesting documents have 
been placed at our disposal. 

The following letter is franked by Lord Abercorn, 
sealed with the name " Glorvina/' and addressed to 
" AY. Mason, Esq, Castle, Clontarf, Dublin." The 
Italics and Capitals are according to the MS. 



" Baron's Court, February 25th, 1812. 

" My dear Sir 

" I perceive I could never get on without you. A 
thousand thanks for your communication, and for 
the trouble you have taken. Betham could greatly 
assist me, and with your interest in my favor, I 
dare say will. Be it remembered that Hugh O'Douel 
(called " Bal Deargh") the son of Magnus is my man. 
I find many difficulties as to the domestic regime of 
the Irish noblesse —whether they burnt lamps, or 
flambeaux, whether they had any liquors besides 
Spanish wines, or whether they had glass in their 
castle windows ; these are the kind of trifles that 
puzzle and retard me. Could Grose give me any 
information ? and if you have him in your Library, 
will you talk to him on the subject ? 

"One more troublesome request, and I promise 
truce for an age to come. Can you possibly procure 
me Miss Brooks 9 translation of Irish Poesy ? — I don't 
mind the price, provided it is not quite exorbitant ; 
if you can get it for love or money, will you have it 
sent to Great George's Street, from whence it can 
come by the mail, and by the return of the post, 
I vrill discharge as much of the obligation as is 

"I should like very much an Irish Motto in Irish 
character for the title page; should you meet with 
anything appropriate to heroism and love of country, 
keep it for me. 

"I am quite delighted to find you are so success- 
fully, and I trust profitably occupied ; no one has the 
secret of enjoying life more completely than your- 
self; the enthusiasm with which you enter on your 
pursuits, and theii own intrinsic rationality and taste- 
fullness must be a source of exhaustless pleasure. 
How I envy you, your castle, your prospects, your 



wood cutting, your planting, and above all the 
treasures of your library, and the pleasure you take 
in collecting and increasing them ; add to these 
your handsome Jane and sweet children, and you 
may say ' a fig for the Sophy of Persia \ apropos to 
handsome Jane, I suppose by this she has seen 

" Farewell, dear Sir, be a little less kind, and 
I shall be a little less troublesome ; tho' never 
less sincerely and gratefully yours, than at this 

" S. 0. M. 

u Sir Charles longs to make the honour of your 
acquaintance ; he is very much in your own style ; 
that makes his panegyric." 

Lady Morgan had advanced as far as the second 
volume of her M.S., when she found it necessary to 
forego her original plan. iC In touching those parts 
of Irish history," as she herself remarks, " which 
were connected with my tale, it would have been 
desirable to turn them into purposes of conciliation, 
and to incorporate the leaven of favourable opinion 
with that heavy mass of bitter prejudice, which 
writers, both grave and trifling, have delighted to 
raise against my country. But when I fondly thought 
to send forth a dove bearing the olive of peace, I 
found I was on the point of flinging an arrow winged 
with discord. I had hoped, as far as my feeble 
efforts could go, to extenuate the errors attributed to 
Ireland, by an exposition of their causes, drawn from 
historic facts ; but I found that, like the spirit in 
' Macbeth/ I should at the same moment hold up a 
glass to my countrymen, reflecting but too many 
fearful images. I discovered, far beyond my expec- 
tation, that I had fallen upon ' evil men, and evil 



days and that in proceeding, I must raise a veil 
which ought never to be drawn, and should renew 
the memory of events which the interests of humanity 
require to be for ever buried in oblivion. I aban- 
doned, therefore, my original plan, took up a happier 
view of things, advanced my story to more modern 
and more liberal times, and exchanged the rude chief 
of the days of old, for his polished descendant in a 
more refined age." 

The object of this book was deep, and deserved, as 
it still deserves, an outburst of national respect and 
gratitude. Her introductory remarks to the edition 
of "O'Donnel," published in 1835, informs us that the 
book was " undertaken with an humble but zealous 
view to the promotion of a great national cause,— 
the Emancipation of the Catholics in Ireland. The 
attempt has been made the matter of grave censure, 
as a step beyond the position of the Author, and 
foreign to the scope of the genus. To this canon of 
criticism I cannot yet subscribe. Novels, like more 
solid compositions, are not exempted from the obliga- 
tion to inculcate truth. They are expected, in their 
idlest trifling, to possess a moral scope ; and politics 
are but morals on a grander scale. The appropria- 
tion of this form of composition to purposes beyond 
those of mere amusement, is not new. A novel is 
especially adapted to enable the advocate of any 
cause to steal upon the public, through the bye-ways 
of the imagination, and to win from its sympathies 
what its reason so often refuses to yield to undeniable 
demonstration. Even those sectarians who have 
taken the highest measure of moral propriety, and 
exclude with rigour all sources of amusement from 
the sphere of a religious life, have condescended thus 
to use the novel for the advancement of their par- 
ticular opinions — as an organ not less legitimate, 
than powerful and effective/' 




Critics' Cavils.— Sir W. Scott's opinion of " O'Donnel."— Sir C. and 
Lady Morgan's visit to France. — Publication of her Great 
Work.— The attack of the "Quarterly."— Beply to that Attack.— 
Lady Morgan grapples with her assailants. — Southey. — George 
the Third suggests to the " Quarterly." — Correspondence. — 
Jack Giffard. — The French Press on Lady Morgan. — Byron. — 
" Florence M'Carthy." — Correspondence. — Croker pilloried by 
Lady Morgan. — The Slanders upon her Fame and Name. — Lady 
Morgan's work on Italy. — Lady Caroline Lamb. — Lady Cork.— 
Denon and La Fayette. — Lady Morgan's Salon in Paris. — Her 
Singular Success. — Praised by Byron. — The " Quarterly" again. 
— " Glorvina ! Glorvina ! beware of the day !" 

For forty years it was fashionable, among a band 
of ill-natured critics, headed by the late John Wilson 
Croker, to ridicule and sneer down Lady Morgan's 
pretensions as a novelist and a writer. Never had an 
author more formidable critical antagonism to contend 
with. Single-handed, Lady Morgan encountered 
this terrific, organized, and almost impregnable band; 
and one by one they fell, vanquished and prostrate, 
at her feet. Since the grave has closed over this 
brilliant woman's labours, a few have endeavoured to 
regain their feet; and availing themselves of an ad- 
vantage so unworthy, they have sought to depreciate 
the abilities of her whom, living, they cravenly feared. 
It is pleasant, however, to be able to set the deliber - 
ately recorded opinion of the greatest novelist that 
ever lived, against the ill-natured, but perhaps not 



uninfluential, snivelling, and drivelling to which we 
have alluded. Sir Walter Scott was himself a 
member of the Croker School in politics. He enter- 
tained an unconquerable aversion to Lady Morgan's 
liberal and progressive views ; and the following 
remarks, committed to his private Diary, are therefore 
the more to be valued. " I have amused myself 
occasionally very pleasantly," he writes, " during the 
last few days, by reading over Lady Morgan's novel 
of ' O'Donnel,' which has some striking and beautiful 
passages of situation and description, and, in the 
comic part, is very rich and entertaining/' 

Shortly after the peace of 1814, Sir Charles and 
Lady Morgan, full of a grand literary scheme, pro- 
ceeded to France, and took advantage of every avail- 
able opportunity to " mark, note, study, and inwardly 
digest/' the manners, customs, history, idiosyncracy, 
tendencies and political posture of that great nation. 

It was no difficult task for Lady Morgan to draw 
upon her fertile brain for gushes of pleasant fiction ; 
but in attempting to walk in the footsteps of Mungo 
Park, Eustace, Bruce, Campbell, and Buckbardt, she 
trod a new and most laborious path. The counsel 
and companionship of Sir Charles Morgan, however, 
proved an invaluable auxiliary. His sound judg- 
ment, philosophical mind, and firm principles, were 
well calculated to correct a woman's rapid inferences, 
and keep down the tone of a novelist's high colour- 
ing fancy. His only fault consisted in a tendency to 

Though a Fellow of the Boyal College of Physi- 
cians, and constantly associating with distinguished 
members of that profession, Sir Charles Morgan re- 
linquished medical practice at an early period of life, 
and devoted himself exclusively to literary and 
political pursuits. Sometimes, but not often, he 



wrote, in a popular manner, on medical subjects. 
His " Outlines on the Philosophy of Life/' had for its 
object the diffusion of a more general knowledge of 
the fundamental facts of Physiology. The book was 
an able one, and very successfully conveyed a popular 
view of the leading facts in Physiology, as they bear 
more especially on the moral and social animal. ' 

In the autumn of 1815, we find Lady Morgan in 
Prance, picking up materials for her great work. 
General Lawless, the distinguished united Irish 
Refugee, writing to his kinsman, Lord Cloncurry, 
from Paris, on August 15th, 1S15, says of Lady 
Morgan. "I like extremely this lady; she is 
agreeable, witty, and with as little conceit as can be 
found in a woman of her merit/' 

The thorough fascination which even a momen- 
tary interview with Lady Morgan produced, having 
become quite proverbial, peculiar facilities of access 
to the most exclusive circles of the gay metropolis, 
at once opened invitingly before her. Fated to 
encounter no contretemps, or, " accidents by flood 
and field," from which few travellers, forty years, 
ago, were exempt, she was feted in another sense 
wherever she went, and brilliant successes marked 
every step in her progress. No reserve was main- 
tained — with the state of everything and everybody 
the "Wild Irish Girl was made au courant. Intel- 
lectually enriched by these invaluable opportunities 
for observation, Lady Morgan's notes on Prance 
daily expanded beneath her hand, while their style 
glittered brilliantly from the polishing touches of 
her elaborating pen. Amid a fever of expectation 
at home and abroad, this remarkable book was at 
length born to the world. In Prance, the Constitu- 
tionel — then a most influential newspaper — reports 
progress : " La curiosite publique est vivement excitee 

176 IjADy morgan, her career, 

par Tannonce de la nouvelle ouvrage de Ladi Morgan 
— ' La France' — des extraits en ont ete dejk lus dans 
les reveles particuliers et ces essais ont produit le 
plus grand enthousiasme — on va presqu'a dire qu'il 
n\a ete rien ecrit de plus brilliant, ni qui donna line 
idee plus exacte de la societe et des inanieres de 
Paris — cet ouvrage doit paraitre a Paris et Londres 
en merae temps dans la semaine prochaine, Ton ajoute 
que les critiques francais taillent deja leurs plumes !" 
The Journal de Paris, another highly influential 
newspaper, tells us: — "Lady Morgan has been 
run after, entertained, and almost worshipped in 
all our fashionable circles. She has studied us 
from head to foot, from court to village, from the 
boudoir to the kitchen. She has seen, observed, 
analysed and described everything, men and things, 
speeches and characters." 

"France," which may be regarded as the chef- 
d'ceuvre of Lady Morgan, is divided into eight books. 
The first treats of the peasantry; the second and 
third of society. The three next are devoted to an 
account of Paris. The seventh book is consecrated 
aux spectacles. The eighth and last, comprises 
sketches of the leading literary characters and 
eminent people of France, while the whole is richly 
spangled with a number of curious and out-of-the- 
way anecdotes. 

This complicated and laborious task, Lady Mor- 
gan executed with all the spirit inherent to an 
ardent mind, and all the independance which is 
characteristic of an honest and a courageous one. 
Her remarks on French society, possessed peculiar 
interest, for they were not founded on hearsay, or 
on the result of metaphysical speculation, but were 
drawn from actual, and apparently very close obser- 
vation. Exploring with care and accuracy the 



springs of political action, among all the factions 
which then disturbed and distracted the breast of 
La Belle France, Lady Morgan's work, while it 
afforded the friends of Liberty a high and valued 
treat, stung corruption to madness and revenge. 
Energetically written, lively, but not flippant, original, 
without affectation, polished, but not labored, 
and graphic without redundancy, the reader finds 
himself transported into the midst of the gay scenes 
which she so vividly and temptingly pourtrays. 
Whether Lady Morgan converses with the glittering 
courtier, the petit proprietaire of a few acres, the 
lady of high rank, or the great literary or political 
lion, we make one of the party, and at length retire 
from the conversazione, sometimes instructed, often 
refreshed, always amused. But the salons of the 
great would seem to have had less attraction for 
Lady Morgan, than the practical acquaintance, 
which, for generous purposes, she formed with the 
French peasantry. Happy as seemed their condi- 
tion, she did not view it with unmixed pleasure. 
When she beheld the bright cottage garden, and the 
various comforts of the contented French peasants, the 
remembrance of the then wretched, oppressed, and 
degraded population of her own country hurried 
to her mind, and furnished a contrast and compari- 
son which, in a mind so sensitive as hers, must have 
created very painful sensations. " The finest flowers 
in France/' she writes, ' ' are now to be found in the 
peasant's garden — -the native Rose de Provence — 
the stranger rose of India, entwine their blossoms, 
and grow together amidst the rich foliage of the vine, 
which scales the gable, and creeps along the roof of 
the cottage. I have seen a French peasant as proud 
of his tulips as any stock-jobber florist of Amsterdam, 
and heard him talk of his carnations as if he had 




been the sole possessor of the semper Augustus ! Oh ! 
when shall I behold near the peasant's hovel in my 
own country other flowers than the bearded thistle 
which there raises its lonely head, and scatters its 
down upon every passing blast ; or the scentless 
shamrock, the unprofitable blossom of the soil, 
which creeps to be trodden upon, and is gathered 
only to be plunged in the inebriating draught, 
commemorating annually the fatal illusions of the 
people, and drowning in the same tide of madness 
their emblems and their wrongs." 

This pleasingly expressed allusion to the national 
practice of drowning the shamrocK in a bowl of 
punch, does not seem to have proved intelligible 
to Lady Morgan's English critics ; for her old foe, 
the " Quarterly Review/' in a violent diatribe, trium- 
phantly quoted the paragraph as a specimen of "the 
utter nonsense" which filled the book, and defied 
any reader to guess what such fine language as the 
above could possibly mean. 

Lady Morgan's representations not being very 
favourable to the pretensions of legitimacy, her 
work, as a matter of course, was attacked w r ith all 
the malignity and virulence for which the " Quarterly" 
when under the Croker and Giffard management, 
was celebrated. The unmanly attack of the Review 
recoiled on itself. People began to ask themselves 
if the cause which it advocated was so totally defence- 
less by argument, so inadequately supported by 
physical force, as to require all the aid of scurrility, 
misrepresentation, and falsehood, to repel the at- 
tacks of its opponents. 

The critic's revival of the old taunt which charged 
all sentiments hostile to the narrow views of a fac- 
tion with Jacobinism, was perhaps the less objec- 
tionable point in his review, since even the res- 



tricted press of Paris had previously done justice to 
Lady Morgan's political sentiments, and acknow- 
ledged that she had drawn the true line of distinc- 
tion between the friends of freedom, and the partisans 
of licence. Indeed all the critical torture which 
could possibly be applied to isolated passages, and 
ex parte statements, failed to disguise the spirit 
of British liberty in which her work was composed. 
For this reason we shall not stop to notice all the 
distortions, and disingenuous suppressions by which 
the reviewer sought to substantiate his charge. But 
as the elaborate article in question remains on 
record in every important library, public and 
private, it is only fair that we give the same perma- 
nence to a brief detection of some of the many 
"ignorances and lies, by implication and deceit 33 
(to quote the reviewer's words) which animate his 
unmanly criticism. 

Lady Morgan called the family of La Payette 
"patriarchal/' and this the critic absurdly con- 
strues into making La Payette's children and 
grandchildren the patriarchs. Passing over the 
reviewer's misconception of the obvious elisions — 
" no primogeniture 93 for " no right of primogeniture," 
of "Palais Conservateur 33 for " Palais du Senat 
Conservateur," &c, we arrive (p. 267) at another 
false statement. Lady Morgan does not " make the 
low stupid blunder" of mistaking Pere Elise for a 
confessor : nor does she draw a comparison between 
his " spiritual influence over Louis XVIII., and 
that of Pere de la Chaise over Louis XIV." Thirdly, 
the reviewer denies bouquets d 3 arbres to be good 
Prench. He ought to have known that it was 
not only a phrase in daily use, but employed by some 
of the best authors. Pourthly, he quarrels with the 
translation of " menin 33 by the word minion. The 

N 2 



offensive meaning attached to it rested, in this 
instance, solely with the reviewer. "Like valour s 
minion" occurs in Macbeth. "Sweet Fortune's 
minion/' and "minions of the moon" in Henry IV. 
But a hundred other instances might be cited to 
justify Lady Morgan's application of this word. 
Menin is derived from mener, and signifies a friend, 
a follower. Fifthly, the etymology of Carousel, 
criticized at p. 269, is from Madame de Genlis, 
who surely ought to know French better than a 
British Reviewer. 

Sixthly, Lady Morgan does not say that she knew 
persons who lived under Louis XIV. The reviewer 
must have been very ignorant of Parisian life not 
to have known that " Voltigeur de Louis XIV" 
was then, and has been constantly since, applied in 
Paris as a sobriquet to the emigrant superannuated 
officers of the remodelled army. Seventhly, Lady 
Morgan did not mistake Cherubin for the singular 
number of Cherubim. This gratuitous charge rose 
out of the reviewer's ignorance that Cherubin is the 
name of tlie maudit page in Beaumarchais' comedy. 
Eighthly, Lady Morgan did not suppose the Battle 
of Fontenoy, at which the Irish Brigade obtained 
its memorable victory over the British, to have been 
fought under Louis XIV. She expressly attributes 
it to the reign of his successor — besides compagnes 
a la rose is not " jargon." 

Ninthly, the reviewer seems not to have been 
aw r are that " the atheist Voltaire" wrote repeatedly 
and vehemently against atheism. Moreover, it 
would, perhaps, have slightly altered the critic's 
tone had he read the recently published book of 
Lord Broughton, in which many misapprehen- 
sions in regard to Voltaire's real views are dispelled, 
and the evidence of the man who acted for thirty 


years as Voltaire's private secretary adduced, from 
which we learn that during that long period Voltaire 
was never known to utter, even in the unguarded 
intimacy of friendship, any remark of an infidel 
character. This, although strongly disapproving of 
Voltaire's writings, we deem it necessary to say. 

Tenthly, Lady Morgan says: i( bastilles, lettres 
de cachet, mysterious arrest, and solitary confine- 
ment started upon my imagination, and I had 
already classed myself with the Iron Mask, and 
caged Mazarine, the Wilsons, Hutchinsons, and 
Braces/' To this the reviewer (p. 280) replies : 
" This is the lie by implication : Wilson, Hutchin- 
son, and Bruce had grievously violated the laws ; 
they were openly arrested, legally confined, pub- 
lically tried, criminally sentenced, and generously 
pardoned." Now what are the facts ? Wilson, 
Bruce and Hutchinson were buried au secret in the 
gloomy cells of La Force on a bailable offence. In 
this illegal confinement they were detained until 
they would confess the truth of the charge. After 
two months' detention they were accused of high 
treason, and remained one fortnight under that 
unjust accusation. At length the latter indictment 
was cancelled as an act of justice, and in opposition 
to the wishes and passions of the court and the 
government. Nor were they ever generously par- 
doned. At the expiration of their sentence, and 
after seven months' imprisonment, they were released 
from captivity. — See the " Morning Chronicle," of 
September 6, 1817. 

Beijing in their own conduct the Scripture pre- 
cepts of " Charity envieth not, think eth no evil, 
and rejoiceth in the truth," and " Judge not that 
you be not judged," the Quarterly Reviewers coolly 
remind the reader that on a former occasion they 



recommended the Bible to Lady Morgan's perusal, 
a request which they regret to find has been dis- 
regarded ; while at p. 283, they inconsistently 
declare that Lady Morgan parodies Scripture for 
the purpose of turning it into ridicule, an accusation 
perfectly gratuitous. 

But the most serious charge against the reviewer 
has yet to be made. Lady Morgan viewed many 
Catholic customs on the Continent with an eye of 
prejudice; and amongst the number certain proces- 
sions in honour of the Blessed Vigin. It may be 
premised that in the revolutionary days of anarchy 
nearly every statue of the Holy Mother had been 
broken or defaced by sacrilegious hands, and 
Madonnas became very scarce in consequence. 
The reviewer disingenuously suppresses this fact, 
and garbles a passage of Lady Morgan's for the 
purpose of upbraiding her with licentious writing ! 
After a damaging preamble the " Quarterly" quotes 
from our authoress : " The priests to their horror 
could not find a single Virgin, and were at last 
obliged to send to a neighbouring village to request 
the loan of a Virgin. A Virgin was at last pro- 
cured ; a little indeed the worse for the wear ; but 
this was not a moment for fastidiousness, and the 
Madonna was paraded through the streets." The 
critic requests his readers (p. 281,) to consider what 
manner of woman she must be who displays such 
detestable grossness of which even a jest book would 
be ashamed, and cautions every parent against 
allowing Lady Morgan's work into his family, or 
his drawing-room. By referring to the original 
passage it will be perceived that the reviewer has care- 
fully omitted the words " to carry in procession/ 3 

This unworthy distortion has often since been adopt- 
ed on the authority of the " Quarterly Eeview. It 



may be found in Playfair's work on France. Lady 
Morgan in noticing some charges of immorality, 
which, in 1821, had been made upon her, said, 
" Once for all, I appeal from the reviewers to the 
works themselves. Let me be judged by what I 
have written ; and not by the commentaries of my 
enemies, or the dislocated passages they choose to put 
forward for their own purposes/' 

The "Quarterly Review" in the same article strongly 
animadverted on Lady Morgan's admiration of the 
" vain, feeble, doating coxcomb, Lafayette." His 
deliberate resignation of the title of Marquis is not 
quite consistent with the character of a vain cox- 
comb. But let Lady Morgan vindicate him. In 
1830 she thus referred to that flippant criticism. 
" It will scarcely be credited that such a state- 
ment, in defiance of historical fact, and of con- 
temporary witnesses, and in utter recklessness of 
European opinion, should have been put forth to 
the British public, to work upon its timidity, and to 
insult its ignorance. Yet this picture of the idol of 
two great nations, of the friend of Washington and 
of Jefferson, of Fox and of La Rochefoucauld, of the 
respected of Napoleon, and the eulogised of Charles 
the Tenth — of the most illustriously virtuous man of 
his age and country, of the most consistent public 
character in ancient or modern story — this picture, 
in which every trait is a falsehood, and every touch a 
calumny, was risked by the paid organ of the British 
Government, and was received unquestioned by the 
British nation I 33 

Owing, we suppose, to the dearth of legitimate 
materials for hostile criticism, our reviewer found it 
expedient to devote considerable space to some 
strictures on the score of " bad spelling/' But Lady 
Morgan's preface ought to have disarmed criticism, 



at least on this head. " Having bound myself to my 
publisher/' she writes, " to be ready for the Press 
before April, I was obliged to compose a trait de 
plume, to send off the sheets chapter by chapter, 
without the power of detecting repetitions by com- 
parison, and without the hope of correction from the 
perusal of proof sheets. Printing in one country, 
and residing in another, it was not to be expected 
that the press would wait upon the chances of wind 
and tide, for returns, in, or out of course." 

But it is useless to analyse further this unmanly 
attack. To complete the task of developing its 
mistakes and misstatements would exceed, if possible, 
the tediousness of its author. We shall therefore 
turn to a light poetical version of the critique which 
from its pith and point is not likely to fatigue the 
reader. It is from the pen of Sir Charles Morgan. 

The book we review is the work of a woman, 

A fact which we think will be guessed at by no man, 

Who notes the abuse which our virulent rage, 

Pours forth on its author, in every page, 

And who is this woman — no recent offender, 

A Jacobin, Shanavest, Whiteboy, Defender. 

She who published " O'Donnel," which (take but our word) 

Is a mo; strous wild " tissue of all that's absurd" — 

Indeed there's a something in all her romances, 

Which, to tell our opinion, does not hit our fancies, 

No, give us a novel whose pages unfold 

The glories of that blessed sera of old, 

When Princes legitimate trod on the people, 

And the Church was so high, that it out-topp'd the steeple, 

No, give us some Methodist's maudling confusion, 

Eeligion in seeming, in fact, persecution ; 

Some strange Anti-Catholic orthodox whining, 

At this age of apostacy wildly repining ! ! 

This Woman ! — we scarce could believe when we read, 
Retorts all the charges we heaped on her head ; 



And leads to rebellion young authors, by shewing, 

That calling hard names is by no means reviewing. 

She boasts that we've not spoiled her market in marriage, 

That vainly her morals and wit we disparage ! 

But surely that man is the boldest in life, 

Who, in spite of our ravings, could take her for wife ; 

And therefore we now set him down without mercy 

As the slave of enchantment, " the victim of Circe." 

Now t to come to the matter in hand — we advance 
'Tis "an impudent lie," when she calls her book " France;" 
A title that would not be characteristic, 
Unless for a large Gazeteer or Statistic. 

Next comes her arrangement ! — when this we denounce 
We must eke out our charge with a bit of a bounce ; 
And o'erlook the confusion which reigns in our head, 
To charge it at once, on her book in the stead — 
Of this book, my good readers, in vain you may hope 
An account of its merits, its plan or its scope ; 
For the tale she relates does not chime with the view 
Which we take of France in our loyal review. 
And though we should rail, till our paper were shrinking, 
Alas ! we should but set the people a thinking ; 
On the list of errata 'twere better to seize, 
For thence we may conjure what blunders we please. 

These, mixed with the few, which the best author makes, 

In a work of such length, and our own worse mistakes ; 

With some equivocation, and some " direct lies, ,f 

Of abuse will provide our accustomed supplies ; 

Which largely diluted with loyalty rant, 

With much hypocritical methodist cant, 

Misquotations, mistatements, distortions of phrase, 

Will set the half-thinkers (we judge) in amaze, 

And this u worm most audacious," this " woman so mad," 

This compound of all that's presumptuous and bad, 

(Tho' we should not succeed in repressing her book, 

And the youth of our land on its pages still look,) 

Will perceive, with her friends, midst the people of fashion, 

That the " Quarterly " scribe's in a desperate passion — 

Postscriptum — we'd near made a foolish omission 
And forgotten a slur on her second Edition. 



Though perhaps, after all, she may have the last word, 
And reply to our " wholesome " reraaiks — by a third — 
And thus, like a sly and an insidious joker, 
The malice defeat of an hireling Croker ! ! ! 

The allusion in the foregoing to her Ladvship 
having retorted the charges of the " Quarterly/' has 
reference to some spirited observations which oc- 
curred in the Preface to the first edition of" France." 
It may be perceived that Lady Morgan received the 
furious charge of the u Quarterly" on the point of her 
already fixed bayonet. " While I thus endeavour/' 
she goes on to say in a preface which modestly 
sought to excuse some trivial imperfections incidental 
to the haste with which the book was written, 
" while I thus endeavour to account for faults, I 
cannot excuse ; and to solicit the indulgence of that 
public from whom I have never experienced severity, 
I make no effort to deprecate professional criticism, 
because I indulge no hope from its mercy. There is 
one review, at least, which must necessarily place me 
under the ban of its condemnation; and to which 
the sentiments and principles scattered through the 
following pages (though conceived and expressed in 
feelings, the most remote from those of local or party 
policy) will afford an abundant source of accusation, 
as being foreign to its own narrow doctrines, and 
opposed to its own exclusive creed. I mean the 
' Quarterly Eeview/ It may look like presumption to 
hope, or even to fear its notice; but I, at least, 
know by experience, that in the omniscience of its 
judgment it can stoop, c To break a butterfly upon a 
wheel/ It is now nearly nine years since that review se- 
lected me as an example of its unsparing severity ; and 
deviating from the true object of criticism, made its stric- 
tures upon one of the most hastily composed and insig- 
nificant of my early works a vehicle for an unprovoked 



and wanton attack upon thepersonal character andprin- 
ciples of the author. The slander thus hurled against 
a young and unprotected female, struggling in a path 
of no ordinary industry and effort, for purposes 
sanctified by the most sacred feelings of nature, 
happily fell hurtless. The public of an enlightened 
age, indulgent to the critical errors of pages compos- 
ed for its amusement, under circumstances, not of 
vanity or choice, but of necessity, has, by its coun- 
tenance and favour, acquitted me of those charges 
under which I was summoned before their awful 
tribunal, and which tended to banish the accused 
from society, and her works from circulation; for 
' licentiousness, profligacy, irreverance, blasphemy, 
libertinism, disloyalty, and atheism/ were no venial 
errors. Placed by that public in a definite rank 
among authors, and in no undistinguished circle of 
society, alike as woman and as author, beyond the 
injury of malignant scurrility, whatever form it may 
assume, I would point out to those who have yet to 
struggle through the arduous and painful career 
that I have ran, the feebleness of unmerited calumny, 
and encourage those who receive with patience and 
resignation the awards of dignified and legitimate 
criticism, to disregard and contemn the anonymous 
slander with which party spirit arms its strictures, 
under the veil of literary justice. 

"In thus recurring to the severe chastisement 
which my early efforts received from the judgment 
of the ' Quarterly Review/ it would be ungrateful to 
conceal that it placed 'My bane and antidote at 
once before me/ and that in accusing me of 
' licentiousness, profligacy, irreverence, blasphemy, 
libertinism, disloyalty, and atheism/ it presented a 
nostrum of universal efficacy, which was to trans- 
form my vices into virtues, and to render me, in its 



own words, ' not indeed a good writer of novels, 
but a useful friend, a faithful wife, a tender mother, 
and a respectable and happy mistress of a family! 

"To effect this purpose, 'so devoutly to be 
wished/ it prescribed a simple remedy ; ' To purchase 
immediately a spelling booh, to which, in process of 
time, might be added a pocket dictionary, and to 
take a few lessons in joining-hand ; which superadded 
to a little common sense, in place of idle raptures/ 
were finally to render me that valuable epitome of 
female excellence, whose price Solomon has declared 
above rubies. 

" While I denied the crimes thus administered to, 
I took the advice for the sake of its results ; and like 
'Ccelebs in search of a wife/ with his ambulating 
virtues, I set forth with my Mavor and Entick in 
search of that conjugal state, one of the necessary 
qualifications for my future excellencies. With my 
dictionary in my pocket, with my spelling book in 
one hand, and my copper-plate improvements in the 
other, I entered my probation; and have at last 
(thanks to the ' Quarterly Keview') obtained the 
reward of my calligraphic and orthographic acquire- 
ments. As it foretold, I am become, in spite of the 
' seven deadly sins' it laid to my charge, ' not indeed 
a good writer of novels/ but, I trust, ' a respectable/ 
and, I am sure, ' a happy mistress of a family/ 

" In the fearful prophecy so long made, that I 
should never write a good novel, the ' Quarterly 
Eeview/ in its benevolence, will at least not be 
displeased to learn that I have written some that have 
been successful; and that w r hile my Glorvinas, 
Luximas, and Lollottes, have pleaded my cause at 
home, like 'very Daniels, 3 they have been received 
abroad with equal favour and indulgence ; and that 
' O'DonneF has been transmitted to its author, in 


three different languages. Having thus, I hope, 
settled 'my long arrear of Gratitude with Alonzo/ 
I am now ready to begin a new score ; and await the - 
sentence of my quondam judge, in the spirit of 

" * Who neither courts nor fears 
His favour nor his hate.' 99 

But even assuming that Lady Morgan's talents 
were far from being of the first order, the violent 
denunciations of her reviewers were quite unjustifiable. 
It had hitherto been held a sacred maxim in the 
canons of criticism that when a female became a 
candidate for literary fame, even though her merits 
were not of . the brightest, her very sex formed an 
appeal to the heart which forbid acrimony of censure, 
much less violent invective, or falsity of accusation, 
and secured at least the appearance of respect, even 
in the absence of those complimentary speeches 
which have been considered, from time immemorial, a 
species of homage justly due to the fair sex. In 
"The Statesman/' an able Whig newspaper of the 
day, the authorship of the violent attack of the 
" Quarterly 33 which charged Lady Morgan with little 
short of the seven deadly sins, is confidently attri- 
buted not to Croker, but to the pen of the laureats 
Robert Southey. We transcribe a portion of this 
article. The violent tone of recrimination which 
pervaded Whig and Tory antagonism in those days 
is curious to glance back upon. "As Burke said," 
observes ' The Statesman/ " ' the age of chivalry is 
gone,' and a race of literary ruffians and political 
renegades have sprung up, who, to repay the world 
for the detestation in which they are held, spurn at 
every honourable feeling ; and, insensible to the 
restraints of conscience, neither regard the claims of 



age or sex, of wisdom or virtue, but wage rude and 
indiscriminate war with all who will not consent to 
be as base, wicked, and infamous as themselves. 
By one of these literary assassins, Lady Morgan has 
had the honour of being attacked. It comes from 
the pen of that skulking and malignant renegade, the 
author of ' Wat Tyler/ and appears in that ponder- 
ous production of scurrility and venom, the i Quarterly 
Review/ In this attack, all that is contemptible in 
the petty, all that is cowardly and cutting in the 
malignant, all that is scurrilous in vulgar venom, are 
employed to wound the feelings and injure the 
reputation of Lady Morgan. Would it be believed, 
that, in this age and country, a being so thoroughly 
despicable and degraded could be found, as to charge 
this lady with all that is false, all that is licentious, 
all that is blasphemous. All who are acquainted with 
the f Wild Irish Girl/ and ' O'Donnel/ will know 
what station to assign the pensioned renegade, who 
has thus, with savage ferocity, assailed her reputa- 
tion. Here, for the present, we take leave of this 
apostate and his prostituted labours, until we have 
an opportunity of contrasting some of his own 
Jacobinical works, witli his recent lucubrations in his 
dark and scowling ' Quarterly Review/ 33 

In the selection from Souther's letters, edited by his 
son, we find no allusion to this critical assault on 
Lady Morgan ; although Southey repeatedly speaks 
of his laborious contributions to the " Quarterly/' 
and of the high estimation in which they were held 
by the Government. Lord Liverpool, we learn, sent 
for Southey, and overwhelmed him with protestations 
of gratitude and esteem. Warter/s selection of 
Southey's letters, reveals that George the Third inter- 
meddled with some political articles in the u Quarterly 



Blackmarked by the "Quarterly ;" denounced by 
" Blackwood {* poo-pooed by the pious " Mail" and 
"Packet;" and scowled at by puritanical old dowagers, 
poor Lady Morgan's Irish receptions began to exhibit 
some temporary symptoms of a falling off in fashion- 
able attendance. As a cruel cotemporary Tory satire 
has it : 

"While carriages roll thro' the street of Kildare, 
Due south to the Green, and due north to the Square, 
Will none check their steeds, as in triumph they prance, 
At the door of the travelling lady from France ?" 

The " Freeman's Journal" was not alone the most 
influential of the liberal organs of Ireland at the 
period of which we write, but enjoyed a circulation 
exceeding that of any of its contemporaries, as appears 
from an official return published in the " Freeman" of 
May 17, 1817. The editor of this journal from 
1813 to 1818, was Michael Staunton, Esq., now an 
important public officer in Dublin. In Lady Morgan's 
recently published " Odd Volume," Mr. Staunton is 
twice alluded to, first (p. 149) in a letter dated Paris, 
October 31, 1818, and again in another communica- 
tion, dated March, 1819. The following letter, chrono- 
logically in place here, is addressed to Mr. Staunton : — 


ee Lady Morgan presents her compliments to the 
Editor of the 'Freeman's Journal/ Having learnt 
that during her recent absence from Dublin, he has 
had the kindness to mention her new work with 
approbation, she takes the earliest opportunity of 
offering her acknowledgments. She begs at the same 
time to mention, that as the hireling presses of 
London, Paris, and Dublin, are at this moment let 
loose against her work on France, and as the ' Dublin 
Journal' has declared that the long tirade it has 


inserted against her from ' Galignani's Messenger/ 
has been translated expressly for its columns ! Lady 
Morgan would be extremely happy to place in the 
hands of the Editor of the 6 Freeman's Journal' some 
French critiques on her work, this moment received 
from Paris, and done by the most eminent literary 
characters on the continent, and forming a complete 
refutation to the paragraphs inserted in the ( Courier/ 
€ Dublin Journal/ &c, &c. 

" If the Editor could call on Lady Morgan any 
time to-morrow, and mention at what hour, Lady 
Morgan will be happy to see him, and trusts that he 
will have the goodness to pardon the trouble she gives 
him in favour of a cause of which he has already 
shewn himself the unsolicited, able and liberal 

The ludicrous blunder about " Galignani's Mes- 
senger" is quite characteristic of the "Dublin 
Journal." This newspaper was first established by 
Alderman Faulkner, the friend of Swift, Chesterfield, 
and the leading politicians and literateurs of the 
time. Faulkner having ably edited the paper for 
fifty years, it at length came into the hands of an 
illiterate and illiberal person named John Giffard, who 
infused into its tone such " violence, virulence, vul- 
garity, and mendacity, that in the present date its 
advocacy would be held detrimental to the cause of 
any party." Yet Giffard, originally a blue-coat boy, 
was preferred to places of honour and emolument by 
the Government. Giffard' s personal demeanour was 
as morose as his pen was truculent ; and for many 
years he enjoyed the sobriquet of "the dog in office," 
and his paper that of "the Dog's Journal." Giffard 
having accused Grattan of treasonable designs, the 
great orator retorted thus : " It proceeds from the 



hired traducer of his country, the excommunicated of 
his fellow citizens, the regal rebel, the unpunished 
ruffian, the bigoted agitator. In the city, a firebrand ; 
in the court, a liar ; in the streets, a bully ; in the 
field, a coward. And so obnoxious is he to the very 
party he wishes to espouse, that he is only support- 
able by doing those dirty acts the less vulgar refuse 
to execute." Giffard pocketed the insult. The last 
number of the "Dublin Journal" appeared in 1825. 

Lady Morgan concludes her letter to Mr. Staunton 
with a remark complimentary to the "Freeman's 
Journal." This cannot be classed among the empty 
compliments which some people are fond of paying 
to their friends through the safe and comparatively 
irresponsible medium of private letters, but which 
they would shirk from stating publicly or in print. 
A stern sense of sincerity and consistency formed one 
of Lady Morgan's fairest characteristics. Among the 
notes to the first chapter of " Florence McCarthy," 
it is declared that "The ' Freeman's Journal' is one 
of the most spirited, popular, and best conducted 
papers in the Empire." 

"Le Journal des Debats," the organ of the 
French Court, was the architype from which all 
the minor revilers of Lady Morgan took their 
tone. From these dull plagiaries, in which scurrility 
takes the place of analysis, and flippant asser- 
tion is substituted for proof, it is gratifying to turn 
to the more important and liberal criticisms of 
the "Journal General," the "Journal de Paris," 
"Chronique de Paris," "Le Constitutionel," and 
"Mercure de France." It was to these critiques 
that Lady Morgan, in her letter to Mr. Staunton, 
refers. One, from the pen of Benjamin Constant, the 
distinguished orator and constitutionalist, we are 
tempted to transcribe. Constant refutes in detail, 



and with admirable temper, the petulant objec- 
tions advanced by Lady Morgan's foes. "If" he 
writes, "she had represented the French as a 
debased and depraved nation ; if she had lamented 
over the corruption of manner, and the absence 
of morality and religion; if, in short, in com- 
paring the existing moment with former epochs, 
she had presented a touching eulogium of the 
Gabelle and the Corvee (of whichjshe does not speak 
with the greatest reverence,) it is possible that her 
work would have been vaunted as a chef-d'ceuvre, her 
literary heresies would have been passed over, and 
every formula of praise would have been employed to 
push her writings into public estimation. But' Lady 
Morgan prefers a Constitutional Government to 
arbitrary powers ; she elevates France, as it now is, 
above the France of former times; and these are 
faults which no virtues can redeem. It has been 
made a serious charge against her, that she has 
attempted to excuse the crimes of the revolution. I 
have read her work and find no ground for such an 
accusation. Wherever the author speaks of that 
period of mourning and anarchy, the reign of terror, 
her language expresses the indignation with which 
she is penetrated. Whence then can this charge have 
originated ? It is not difficult to discover. Lady Morgan 
does not unite in the same proscription the genuine 
lovers of liberty, and those sanguinary monsters, who, 
while invoking its name, were its most bitter enemies ; 
she does not make it a crime in the Patriots of 1784), 
that they were ignorant of the secret of futurity ; she 
absolves Philosophy from the errors of ignorance, and 
from the excesses of faction — and such opinions are 
not to expect toleration. The distinction she lias 
thus drawn between the partisans of license, and the 
sincere friends of a regulated liberty, does honour to 
her discernment ; it is just ; and it requires all the 



blindness of thwarted personal interest not to per- 
ceive it. Such are the opinions of Lady Morgan, 
and it is in this sense alone that she is revolutionary ; 
she will console herself from imputations *thus 
hazarded, by reflecting how difficult it is, at certain 
epochs, to speak the truth, without injuring interests 
and shocking prejudices, which resist all modifica- 
tion or compromise. She will console herself, above 
all, in the conviction, that every enlightened and 
liberal mind will applaud the use she has made of 
her rare talents in the work under consideration." 

An eminent thinker has said, that were we to call 
everything by its right name we should be stoned in 
the streets ; and the reception which Lady Morgan's 
frank and truthful book met with tended to confirm 
the apothegm. In De Constant she found a steadfast 
and able ally. Strong links of friendship continued 
to bind them together until the death of the great 
constitutionalist in 1830 broke them up. 

The wholesome truths to which our authoress gave 
energetic expression led to a decision on the part of 
the then French Government, to refuse her re-admis- 
sion to the country — a mandate, which, as we shall 
see, both Sir Charles and Lady Morgan, conscious of 
their rectitude, disregarded. 

The attack made on " France," in the " Quarterly 
Review," produced an effect as unexpected by the 
author as the critic. It promoted the sale of the 
work it was intended to suppress, of which four 
editions in England, two in France, and four in 
America were rapidly exhausted. " Even the chiefs of 
the Tory Party," said Lady Morgan, " affected in 
public to be ashamed of the clumsy andungentlemanly 
manner in which their work was done. In private, 
however, they asked the reviewers to their tables, on 
the strength of such exertions." 

o a 


Lord Byron was no admirer of Lady Morgan, and 
abused her Athenian heroine in one of the notes to 
" Childe Harold." Yet even he, as we gather from a 
private letter addressed by him to his friend Murray, 
publisher of the " Quarterly," thought the tone of 
that organ towards Lady Morgan unjustifiable. 
" "What cruel work you make with Lady Morgan. 
You should recollect that she is a woman : though, 
to be sure, they are now and then very provoking : 
still, as authoresses, they can do no great harm, and 
I think it a pity so much good invective should have 
been laid out upon her when there is such a fine 
field of us, Jacobin gentlemen, for you to work upon." 

As soon as the personal excitement and dissipation 
of mind which succeeded the publication of "France" 
had subsided, Lady Morgan devoted all her energies 
to a new national tale, with historical features, which 
under the title of " Florence McCarthy," appeared a 
short time afterwards. The best points in the native 
Irish character, w T ith the richest flowers of the Irish 
dialect, were sketched with a masterly hand by Lady 
Morgan ; and there can be no doubt that Banim, 
Griffin, and Carleton drew much of their inspiration 
in depicting peasant life from the same source. Pre- 
vious to attempting this exceedingly interesting and 
erudite novel, Lady Morgan, as was her wont, 
saturated her memory with a large amount of read- 
ing, which bore upon the subject of it. From the 
late Mr. Mason, author of the " History of St. 
Patrick's Cathedral Church," then in progress of 
composition, Lady Morgan received much acceptable 
assistance in this respect. 

"My dear Sir,— I have done all with Mr. O'Hall- 
oran that can be done with, and so send him adrift. 
I have still five volumes of yours — would you lend 
me, for a few hours, Sir Richard Colt Hoare's Travels ? 



— I long for a fine dry evening that I may walk 
down and drink tea with ' the lovely Mrs. Mason and 
her old china/ and gossip with you and see your 
great work. I always forget to ask you whether she 
or you have had my little ' Prance/ and if not, will 
you iet me lend it to you ? 

H Would you get some of your Irish scholars to 
translate the following elegant phrases into Irish, 
written in Roman characters, as I don't read Ogham 
with facility : 

"'The Devil go with him/ 'My blessing on 
him — or on you/ 

" ' I don't speak English/ < Is that you V ' Where 
are you come from ?' ' Where have you been ?' 

"What is the meaning of ' musha/ a word in 
frequent use, and ' agus ?' 

" Send me back your own bit of red tape to tie 
round the rest of your books when I return them to 
you. " S. M. 

" P.S. — Morgan makes me open his letter to tell 
Mrs. Mason he dies to kiss her hand/' 

Amongst the out-of-the-way national lore with 
which we find Lady Morgan filling her brain at this 
period, may be mentioned the " Annals of Tigernach," 
the "Psalter of Cashel," and the "Annals of the 
Pour Masters/' In most of the evidence furnished 
by these valuable historical documents, Lady Morgan 
seems to have been an unbeliever. " With respect 
to the evidence of Irish chronicles— beginning with 
Nennius who asserts that in the sixth year of 
Abraham, Parthalanus ruled in Ireland/' wrote Lady 
Morgan in 1846, "I have long since registered my 
scepticisms under the head of 1 Irish Historians/ in 
the 'Book Without a Name/ and the dreamy 
influence and misdirected pride they tend to nourish, 
I have endeavoured to shadow out in the character 



of the insane schoolmaster, Terence Oge O'Leary, in 
1 Florence McCarthy/ and in that of the Baron 
O'Brien, in the ' O'Briens and OTlahertvs/ n 

" No one/' writes Disraeli, " could lasH a woman 
like Rigby/' The same remark applies to Croker. 
Knowing that Lady Morgan was sensitive on the 
subject of her age, he took a mean revenge by hence- 
forth uniformly speaking of her as " Miss Owenson 
of the eighteenth century"* The continental press 
echoed this absurdity with a vengeance. In the 
" Quotidienne" of August 4th, 1821, we read that 
"Lady Morgan, long temps connue dans le siecle 
dernier sous le nom de Miss Owenson." 

Often has the name of Lady Morgan been taken 
in vain since. See, for instance, the " Universal 
Lexicon of Leipsic," where, among other fictions, it 
is asserted that " Lady Morgan, in a fit of disap- 
pointed love, put an end to her life by the aid of her 
own cambric pocket-handkerchief I" 

Mr. Croker' s feeling of irritation knew no bounds. 
He endeavoured to annoy Lady Morgan by call- 
ing her " a female Methusalem ; he laboured to 
discover the date of her birth, but could not. 
" Croker," observes the c Athenaeum/ " issued a com- 
mission of inquiry — himself inquirer, jury, and judge 
against his brilliant countrywoman ; and the pre- 
tended discoveries of that acrimonious partizan 
amused the reading and talking world of London for 
a whole season." 

* Mr. Jeafferson, in his " Novels and Novelists 99 (v. ii. p. 379) 
gravely follows Croker: "Lady Morgan's literary career com- 
menced in the last century, years before Byron published a line, 
or Moore had fascinated voluptuaries with Little's Poems. Her 
first volume was a collection of short pieces in verse, and was 
produced ere she had completed her fourteenth year." This 
little book appeared, as we have seen, in 1801, when Sydney 
Owenson had entered on her twenty-fifth year. 



Mr. Croker was proverbially, and often offensively 
inquisitive. But in cross-examining Mrs. Clarke, 
so far back as 1809, he caught a Tartar. Demanding 
to know how often she had seen Mr. Dowler, the 
Duke of York's mistress retorted: "I believe the 
honourable gentleman can tell pretty well ; for his 
garret-window, very convenient for his prying disposi- 
tion, overlooks my house/' Mr. Croker was at this 
time member for Downpatrick. 

The virulence with which Mr. Croker pursued his 
gifted countrywoman was remarkable. To cause her a 
pang he never let an opportunity slip. For instance, 
in reviewing the " American Sketches" of Mr. Fearon, 
an English gentleman, who had incidentally given a 
kind word to Lady Morgan, Mr. Croker writes : — 
"He grossly libels his fair countrywomen in repre- 
senting them fond of the writings of Lady Morgan. 
From 'Ida of Athens/ the first of her monstrous 
progeny, to that last souterkin of dullness and immo- 
rality, c Florence McCarthy/ they view them all with 
equal disgust." 

In a review of Mitt's " Table Talk" (v. xxvi, p. 
107) " the ravings of a maniac" are applied to the writ- 
ings of Lady Morgan. In vol xvii p. 223 the unmanly 
epithet, "unwomanly brutality" is affixed to her, 
w r hile (at p. 264, and seq.) her alleged "blunders, 
bombast, and falsehood" come under Mr. Croker' s 
lash. The violence of the censure saved her. Mr. 
Croker would seem to have been unaware that 
temperate criticism, and what an eminent writer has 
termed, understatement, are far and away more 
effective than roaring denunciation. 

It is generally an injudicious course for an author 
to give battle to critics who are almost sure to have 
the best of it ; but the lacerating poignancy of satire 
combined with the intrepidity of vengeance, with 



which Lady Morgan retorted upon them gave her a 
decided vantage ground. The admirably rich cha- 
racter of Counsellor Con Crawley in "Florence 
McCarthy" was at once recognised as John Wilson 
Croker; and Moore has recorded the fact that 
Croker winced more under the caricature than any 
of the many direct attacks which were made upon 
him. The sixth chapter of " Florence McCarthy" 
introduces us to the Crawley family : — " If ever their 
was a period in the history of a country when it 
might be said, that ' Crime gave wealth, and wealth 
gave impudence/ " observes Lady Morgan, " it was 
that period in the history of Ireland, when rebellion, 
excited for the purpose of effecting an unwelcome 
Union, called forth all the worst passions of human- 
ity, and armed petty power with the rod of extermin- 
ation. The w r ealth, influence, and importance of the 
Crawley family took their date from that memorable 
and frightful epoch in the tragedy of Irish history, 
which produced both moral and political ruin to a 
long-devoted country, under every form of degrada- 
tion, of which civilized society is susceptible. Previous 
to that period, the three brothers had remained 
buried in the obscurity which belonged to their 
social and intellectual mediocrity. The eldest, 
Darby Crawley, the country attorney, found his 
highest dignity in being the factotum of the two 
Barons Fitzadelm, the agent of their embarrassed 
property, on which he lent them money saved by his 
father in their service, until the little that remained 
of the estate fell into his hands. Through the 
interest of his employer, he had been put into the 
commission of the peace: the year 1798 found him 
a magistrate, and fortune and his merits had done 
the rest. The second brother, whose gravity was 
mistaken for ability by his father, (the illiterate land- 



bailiff of the Fitzadelms) was made a gentleman by 
the patent of a college education, and the legal 
degree of barrister-at-law. He had plied in the 
courts with an empty green bag, and more empty 
head, year after year with fruitless vigilance, till his 
energy, in the melancholy prosecutions produced by 
the rebellion, obtained him notice, patronage, place, 
and a silk gown/'' 

But let us pass on to chapter the sixteenth, where 
Lady Morgan figures as Lady Clancare, and some 
of Counsellor Con's flippant criticisms find expres- 

"I think/' said Lord Frederick, taking his coffee, 
and throwing himself on a divan, near Lady Georg- 
iana, "we all appear to be buried in the tomb of 
the Capulets. I had no idea the divine Marchesa 
meant to consign us all to such immortal dulness. 
We are already almost reduced aux muets interprMes, 
and shall gradually fall into the eloquent silence of 
that round-eyed, tongue-tied, Lady Clancare, who 
par parenthese looks as if she were extracting us all 
for her common-place book, and will doubtless bring 
us out in hot-press, sans dire gar !" 

" I doubt she will ever bring out anything half 
so good," said Conway Crawley : " as yet that is not 
in her line ; she has had too few opportunities of 
studying fashionable life to attempt anything in 
that way. Her position here, at least, is so extreme- 
ly obscure, that I believe the Castle of Dunore is 
the first fine house in the country into which she 
was ever admitted." 

" And," said Miss Crawley, smiling, and in spite 
of her former discomfiture, unable to contain her 
acrimonious spirit, "and perhaps it may be her 

" Her principles," continued young Crawley, " as 



disseminated in her f National Tales/ as she calls 
them, are sufficient to keep her out of good society 

" I thought I had heard you say, Mr. Crawley/* 
observed Mr. Daly, "that you did not know Lady 
Clancare was an author/* 

"I did not till this morning," said Crawley, a 
little confused. u When Lady Dunore mentioned 
the titles of her works, and the initials representing 
the author's name, I recollected having looked over 
those tomes of absurdity and vagueness, of daring 
blasphemy, of affectation, of bad taste, bombast, and 
nonsense, blunders, ignorance, Jacobinism, falsehood, 
licentiousness,"* and impiety, which it now seems are 
the effusions of the pseudo Lady Clancare." 

Young Crawley, already flushed with wine, grew 
still more red with rage as he spoke. 

" Oh, my dear Mr. Crawley," interrupted Lord 
Frederick, with unusual vivacity, "-say no more, or 
you will make us in love with the author and her 
work together ; for, really, a book that could com- 
bine all these terrific heterogeneous qualities, and yet 
be read, must be very extraordinary : pour le 

"Very extraordinary indeed," said Mr. Daly, 
" considering that with all these vices and faults, 
they have been so read, and bought, as to realize an 
independence for their author, and enable her to 
carry on a suit which has deprived the elder Mr. 
Crawley of his dear Clotnottyjoy. It would at least 

* This was a most singular and happ? anticipation of a 
judgment of the " Quarterly Review." Exactly eleven years 
afterwards, in a violent diatribe on Maynooth (v. 37, p. 434) the 
" O'Briens and 0' Flaherty s " is refeired to as " a strange fan ago of 
ignorance, licentiousness, and Jacobinism." Mr. Cyrus Redding, 
in his recently published " Fifty Years Recollections," says that 
the " Quarterly's " attacks on Lady Morgan, generally attributed 



appear, that in spite of professional criticism, the 
public are always with her/' 

u Oh, her flippant and arrogant ignorance has its 
market/'' returned Conway Crawley, " and the sylphed 
Miss McCarthy, the elegant Lady Clancare, is, in fact, 
a mere bookseller's drudge. Her impudent falsehoods, 
and lies by implication, the impious jargon of this 
mad woman, this audacious worm " 

" Are you speaking of Lady Clancare, sir ?" said 
General Fitzwalter, who had been talking to Lord 
Adelm, but who now turned shortly round upon 
young Crawley, with a tone and look that stunned 
the harcly railer , " are you applying such language 
to a woman — to any woman ?" 

Counsellor Crawley, who was physically timid, 
shrinks back abashed, and takes up a book ; while 
the marchioness enters leaning upon Lady Clancare' s 
arm. " We have had a delicious walk of some 
miles/' said Lady Dunore, sinking into a chair and 
calling for coffee ; while Lady Clancare modestly took 
her seat rather behind than beside, so as just to raise 
her face over the back of Lady Dunore' s chair, in a 
position equally shy and observing. For a moment 
she attracted every eye, and all sought to trace in her 
countenance some indication of the audacious, lying, 
profligate, ignorant, and pretending Jacobin/' 

Sir Jonah Barrington, a man whose knowledge of 
Ireland and the Irish character, was singularly inti- 
mate and profound, writes of " Florence M'Carthy," 
"The Crawleys are superlative, and suffice to bring 

to Croker, were really written by Giffard, in whom vulgarity was 
inherent. Giffard, however, ceased to edit the " Quarterly " in 
1823, and died in 1826. The above passage first appeared in 
1828, and it is impossible to doubt that it owes its existence to the 
same pen that had so often previously assailed Lady Morgan with 
such vulgarity and mendacity. — Ed. 



before my vision, in their full colouring, and almost 
without a variation, persons and incidents whom and 
which I have many a time encountered. Nothing is 
exaggerated as to them ; and Crawley himself is the 
perfect and plain model of the combined agent, attor- 
ney and magistrate — a sort of mongrel functionary, 
whose existence 1 have repeatedly repudiated, and 
whom I pronounce to be, at this moment, the greatest 
nuisance and mischief experienced by my unfortunate 

It was certainly afar-fetched charge to accuse Lady 
Morgan of Atheism ; and yet with this repulsive 
crime, the Tory Reviewers repeatedly upbraided her. 
How they could venture to advance an accusation so 
startling, in the face of such ample irrefragable evi- 
dence to the contrary, will not fail to surprise modern 
notions of honour, gallantry and justice. Few writers 
made finer, or more impressive appeals and allusions 
to the Deity than Lady Morgan. " Gracious hea- 
ven !" she exclaims : " Is it for man, weak man, 
trembling in the consciousness of his own imbecility, 
to bear down upon his weaker brother ? And should 
not every sluice of pity and toleration, be opened in 
his bosom for the fallibility of that creature whose 
nature he wears, in whose frailties he participates, and 
to whose errors he is liable ? Atoms as we are in the 
boundless space of creation ! surrounded by mystery, 
involved in uncertainty, knowing not from whence 
we came, or whither we shall go, beings of an in- 
stant ; with all our powers, all our energies hastening 
to decay ! Is it for us to assume the right of empire, 
and refuse that mercy to others, which we all look for 
in common to Him, who is Himself perfection P J 

For year after year this amiable and accomplished 
woman continued to be branded as an atheist in reli- 
gion, and a latitudinarian in morals. " No matter 



with what ability slanderous attacks may be refuted," 
says Jerdan, " some of the dirt is sure to stick to 
you." Lady Morgan's case was no exception to the 
apothegm. Even since she has tranquilly passed into 
eternity, there has been no disinclination in some 
quarters to fasten the guilt of infidelity on her life 
and soul. But no charge can possibly be more base 
or baseless. We have taken some trouble to be able 
to disprove it ; and it is with no small pleasure that 
we find ourselves in a position to state, on the au- 
thority of a lady who possessed the friendship and con- 
fidence of Lady Morgan, that the great authoress 
never allowed a day to pass over without reading a 
chapter from the Sacred Scriptures. Indeed, Lady 
Morgan's acquaintance with the Bible can be doubted 
by none who read " Woman and her Master," the 
Controversy with Cardinal Wiseman, and the preface 
to "The O'Briens and the OTlahertys," not to speak 
of many other productions of her pen. " Woman and 
her Master" displays almost as thorough an intimacy 
with the Sacred Volume as the writings of Locke or 
Whately. But to show how strongly the virulently 
fostered impression continues to exist even in quar- 
ters usually the best informed on all matters apper- 
taining to literature, we shall cull a paragraph from 
a letter addressed to the writer of these pages by D. 
Owen Maddyn, a few days previous to his lamented 

"For private reasons I avoided knowing Lady 
Morgan ; but critically I am acquainted with all her 
points. She had an immense amount of brass and 
brilliancy ; and was a very striking person in her 
way, but I always recoiled from her as a sort of fe- 
male Voltaire, reared in a province, and fed on po- 
tato diet. She did not appreciate the hereditary 
Puritanism of the Irish Protestants, among whom 



she was born and bred, and she had no sympathy 
with the far descended traditional religion of the 
Catholics of Ireland. She scoffed and scorned, and 
ransacked the Trench salons in a wearisome way : 
but she had spirit, play of fancy, and as a novelist 
she pointed the way to Lever, whose precursor she 
was. The rattling vivacity of the Irish character ; its 
ebullient spirit, and its wrathful eloquence of senti- 
ment and language, she well pourtrayed; one can 
smell the potheen and turf smoke even in her pictures 
of a boudoir. Her attack on Croker was very clever, 
and had much effect in its day. It is written on the 
model of the Irish school of invective furnished by 
Mood and Gxattan." 

The great success of 'France' induced Mr. Colburn 
to offer Lady Morgan a very considerable sum for a 
similar work on Italy. But let us state the proposal, 
and the circumstances which led to it, in her own 
words. The "Odd Volume" of her recently pub- 
lished Diary opens with : " This morning, as I was on 
my knees, all dust and dowdyism, comes the English 
post — old Colburn — no ! not old at all, but young 
enthusiastic Colburn in love with ' Florence Ma- 
carthy/ and a little epris with the author ! ' Italy, 
by Lady Morgan V he is ' not touched, but rapt/ 
and makes a dashing offer of two thousand pounds — 
to be printed in quarto like 'France' — but we are to 
start off 'immediately/ and I have 'immediately' an- 
swered him in the words of Silemo in ' Midas' — 

" ' Done ! strike hands — 

1 take your offer, 

Further on I may fare worse/ 99 

From August, 1818, to May, 1819, we find Lady 
Morgan sojourning in London, Paris, and La Grange, 
in preparation for her journey to Italy. At the great 



metropolis, Lady Morgan made the acquaintance of 
Lady Caroline Lamb, so famous for her mad adora- 
tion of Byron, her activity in personally canvassing 
the electors of Westminster on behalf of her brother- 
in-law, and for three light fashionable novels of which 
she was the author. " Glenarvon/' Lady Caroline's 
best novel, pourtrayed the character and idiosyncrasies 
of Lord Byron, for whom she had contracted an un- 
fortunate attachment. The noble poet, after some 
time, trifled with her feelings. She went into retire- 
ment, and continued to reside for several years at 
Brocket Hall, the seat of her husband, the Hon. 
William Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne. The 
peaceful seclusion which she had sought met with a 
painful and fatal interruption. When one day riding 
with Mr. Lamb near Brocket Hall, a hearse passed, 
conveying the remains of Byron to Newstead Abbey ! 
Lady Caroline was carried home insensible, and an 
illness ensued, which eventually consigned her to the 
grave. The letters of this strange woman to Lady 
Morgan are amongst the best things in that " Odd 
"Volume" of autobiography which the latter published 
in January, 1859, An idea of their originality may 
be formed from the following passage in a farewell 
letter to Lady Morgan : " You will probably see 
among the dead in some newspaper, 'Died on her 
voyage to Bonneberga Hague, Lady Caroline Lamb, 
of the disease called death, her time being come, and 
she being a predestiuarian/ " The striking portrait of 
Byron executed for Lady Caroline by Sanderson, was 
bequeathed by its owner to the subject of these pages. 

Another very remarkable female character with, 
whom, as we gather from Lady Morgan's Diary, 
she associated closely during her sejour in London 
when en route for Italy, was the eccentric and 
accomplished lady of whom, as Miss Monckton, 



Johnson and Miss Burney have left us some amus- 
ing details, but who in 1818 rejoiced in the high 
sounding title of Lady Cork and Orrery, and 
Viscountess Dungarvan and Kinalmeakey. As illus- 
trative of the eccentricities of this personage, we 
cull a droll entry from Lady Morgan's Diary. 

" Lady Cork's fading sight induced her to borrow 
eyes from every body who dropped in ; I was fre- 
quently on service. One morning she said in her 
peculiar way, when I asked how she was, 'Well, 
child, of course I am well, but I want you to write 
me two notes. I am going to get rid of my page/ 
— 'What! get rid of your pet V— ' Don't talk, 
child, bat do as I ask you/ So I took up my pen, 
and wrote under her dictation, ' To the Duchess of 
Leeds. My dear Duchess, this will be presented to 
you by my little page, whom you admired so the 
other night. He is about to leave me ; only fancy, he 
finds my house not religious enough for him ! and that 
he can't get to church twice on Sundays. 1 certainly 
am not so good a Christian as your Grace, but as to 
the Sundays it is not true. But I think your situa- 
tion would just suit him, if you are inclined to take 
him. Ever yours, M. Cork and 0/ — 'Now/ said 
she, 'fold that up, and put on the address, for fear 
of mistakes. Now my dear, begin another to your 
friend Lady Caroline Lamb, who, 'tis said, broke 
her page's head with a teapot the other day/ — 'A 
Tory calumny/ said I; 'Lady Caroline was at 
Brocket the very day the adventure was said to have 
happened at Whitehall/ — ' I dont care whether it's 
true or not/ said Lady Cork ; ' all pages are better 
for having their heads sometimes broken ; now write 
please : ' Dear Lady Caroline, will you come to me 
to-morrow evening, to my Blue party? I send this 
by that pretty little page whom you admired so, but 



who, though full of talent and grace, is a little imp, 
whom perhaps, you may reform but I cannot. {Par 
parent hese the page just described as a little saint 
was the ' little imp' I was now desired to proner.) — 
He is very like that boy you used to take into your 
opera box with you, and was so famous for dressing 
salad. I would not advise you to take him, if I 
did not think he would suit you. Ask any one you 
like to my blue soiree particularly Mr. Moore. Yours 
in all affection k. C. and O. 'Now my dear put 
that up, and good morning to you/ " 

The signature of M. Cork and Orrery gave rise 
to an amusing equivoque. Having written an order 
to an upholsterer for some valuable article in his 
warehouse, she received for reply, u D. B. not 
having any dealings with M. Cork and Orrery begs 
to have a more explicit order, rinding that the house 
is not known in the trade." 

Lady Morgan pays a visit to the opera, which is 
lit up gaily, and for the first time, with gas. The 
fair portion of the auditory inveigh against it 
because it does not " become" the complexion so 
well as the spermaceti. At the opera, Lady Morgan 
sees the newly married Duchess of Clarence with 
" her yellow skin, lemon-coloured hair, pink eyes and 
sharp features." She also goes to Almack's and 
criticises there also. But we prefer to follow her 
to Paris, where she arrived early in 1819 while the 
angry intrigue to displace the Duke de Cazes from 
his office of first favourite and first minister was at 
its zenith. Denon and La Fayette were in waiting 
to receive the distinguished visitor. The great 
General carries her off almost by force to his grand 
chateau at La Grange, the picture of which as well 
as of La Payette's very interesting family has all 
Lady Morgan's felicity and vividness of description. 



La Payette is very communicative and tells Miladi 
many curious anecdotes, for instance, how he once 
went to a bal masque at the opera with Marie 
Antoinette upon his arm, the king knowing nothing 
of it, with other morceaux illustrative of the esprit 
d'aventure in vogue in those days at the Court of 
Versailles, and in the head of the haughty daughter 
of Austria. 

After a most delightful sojourn ,at La Grange, 
passed in the society of the hero of two worlds, and of 
three revolutions, Lady Morgan goes back to Paris 
and meets Humboldt, aud Talma, and Cuvier, and 
Duchenois, who become constant guests at Miladi' s 
salon, and perform with, a grace debonnaire for her 
w r hat they would hardly have done to oblige crowned 
heads. With Denon she renews an old and honor- 
able intimacy. Auguste Thierry she notices and 
caresses as " a promising young litterateur" Car- 
bonnel fascinates Sir Charles and Lady Morgan, 
but especially the latter, by his charming voice and 
passion for music ; Auguste de Stael, Corinne's son, 
also figures at Miladies receptions, and speaks English 
with the fluency of a native ; we are also introduced 
to the Princess Jablonowski, " the only woman who 
was ever the intimate friend of Napoleon without 
being his mistress," Madame de Villetti, Voltaire's 
Belle et Bonne, who made Miladi a freemason, 
Baron Gerard, Jouy, Sismondi, Lacroix, De Segur, 
Eochette, the vain and gifted d'Arlincourt, Constant, 
who praised her book on Prance so cordially, Dr. 
Portail, — all the prettiest women in short, and the 
brightest masculine minds of Paris flocked to the 
salon of our great authoress, and made it quite an 
intellectual Elysium. 

Rossi, who was assassinated in 1848 at the door 
of the Chamber of Deputies in Rome, Lady Morgan 
met on two occasions at this period. He was in 


1819, as Deiion assures us, a universal favourite in 
society. Lady Morgan says in her Diary, "met 
Monsieur Rossi whom I did not like — the reason 
why I cannot tell." Again: "Rossi dropped in 
but I know not how it is his presence casts a chill/ 1 
Lady Morgan in her work on Italy bitterly bemoans 
that she had failed to make the acquaintance of 
Madame de Stael. " I thus was prevented," she 
adds, " from seeing one of the most distinguished 
w r omen of the age ; from whose works I had received 
infinite pleasure, and (as a woman, I may add) 
infinite pride." 

Lady Morgan did not always act the hostess. 
Her society was generally and eagerly sought after. 
Moore, in his Diary of October 17th, 1819, records : 
"went with Camac to see Sir Charles and Lady Mor- 
gan, her success every where astonishing. Camac was 
last night at the Countess Albany's (the Pretender's 
wife and Alfleri's) and saw Lady Morgan there in 
the seat of honour, quite the queen of the room. 
Capponi too, one of the great men of Florence, sent 
an order from Genoa to have apartments at the house 
of his homme d'affaires ready for her on her arrival 
there." Moore who suffered from illness at this period 
congratulated himself, in the same day's journal, that 
Sir C. Morgan should have been then in Paris — a 
circumstance which shews that Moore entertained a 
high opinion of Morgan's skill as a physician. On 
October 19th, 1819, Moore was sufficientlv recovered 
to dine " with the Morgans" and to hold an animated 
philosophical argument with Miladi. 

Byron, who had attacked Lady Morgan in one 
of his notes to Childe Harold, having heard from 
Moore that she was about to write a record of travels 
and observations made in Italy, laughed disdainfully 
at the idea. " I suspect I know a thing or two of 

p 2 


Italy/' he adds, €s more than Lady Morgan has picked 
up in her posting. What do Englishmen know of 
Italians beyond their museums and saloons and some 
hack * * en passant ?" A perusal of the book warned 
Byron to be henceforth slow in judging without 
ample evidence. Writing to Murray on August 
23rd, 1821, he observes, in answer to some charges 
of plagiarism : "Much is coincidence: for instance 
Lady Morgan (in a really excellent book, I assure you, 
on Italy) calls Venice an Ocean Rome. I have the 
same expression in Eoscari, and yet you know that 
the play was written months ago, and sent to 
England ; the ' Italy' 1 received only on the 16th 
inst."" Writing to Moore, on the following day, 
Lord Byron goes on to say — "By the way, when 
you write to Lady Morgan, will you thank her for 
her handsome speeches in her book about my books ? 
1 do not know her address. Her work is fearless 
and excellent on the subject of Italy — pray tell her 
so — and I know the country. I wish she had fallen 
in with me. I could have told her a thing or two 
that would have confirmed her positions/' 

The principal public buildings in Italy were de- 
scribed by Lady Morgan with all that felicity of ex- 
pression which, in matters that touch her heart and 
fancy, had ever been peculiarly her own. The 
Duomo of Milan, for example, which, although be- 
gun in the fourteenth century, w r as not finished until 
the nineteenth, by Buonaparte, is sketched with a 
pencil of light. The architecture, which is mixed 
Gothic, she leaves to the cavils of virtuosi, and de- 
scribes it as she saw it, in the radiance of an Italian 
sun at mid-day. Its masses of white and polished 
marble, she tells us, are wrought into elegant filagree, 
hardly less elaborate than that which Hindoo fingers 
trace on Indian ivory ; while its slim and delicate 



pinnacles, tipped with sculptured saints, and looking 
(all gigantic as it is) like some fairy fabric of virgin 
silver, dazzles the eye, and fascinates the imagination. 
Its interior solemnity is represented as finely opposing 
its outward lustre, and the effect of the contrast as 
heightened by the splendid procession of the chapter 
in rich vestments, and the more affecting, though less 
imposing one, of the viaticum borne to some dying 
sinner, whilst the Imperial guard turned out and 
presented arms as it went forth, and those who were 
passing by, stopped and knelt with uncovered heads. 
The first Napoleon took a deep interest in the Duomo 
of Milan, and used to gaze with insatiable delight upon 
the splendid pinnacles which he had helped to raise. 

At Rome, Lady Morgan had the honour of 
presentation to Pope Pius VII. Prom Cardinal 
Gonsalvi, his accomplished Secretary of State, she 
received, much courtesy. Lady Morgan used to say, 
that among other kindnesses, he rescued her hus- 
band's books from a seizure made by the Holy 

A book of travel more amusing than " Italy" had 
not appeared for many a day. After galloping 
through the critical passages of the Alps, Lady 
Morgan enters upon Piedmont. She then sketches 
with a bright pencil her route through Lombardy, 
Genoa, Placenza, Parma, Modena, and Bologna, 
which concludes the first volume. The second com- 
prehends her more interesting tour through Tuscany, 
Ptorae, Naples, and Venice ; her chief guide would 
seem to have been Eustace's " Classical Tour." 
When we remember that the latter work, written by 
a zealous Catholic priest, gave offence in Italy, it can 
hardly surprise that Lady Morgan's book should have 
been in these days proscribed by the King of Sar- 
dinia, the Emperor of Austria, and the Pope ; and, as 



the authoress assures us in her Preface to " Salvator 
Rosa," u it became dangerous to receive letters, or to 
answer them." 

It was Lady Morgan's fate through life to be 
obliged to contend, single-handed and almost un- 
ceasingly, against an organised assault of violent 
bludgeon criticism, which had its origin in private 
and political motives, and which, in the case of any 
other woman, would have utterly crushed her. This 
band of desperado critics found an ally in a minor 
tribe of scribes who with pen-stilettos dipped in 
poison, persecuted her virulently. No doubt the 
ablest and most influential of the former band was 
the late Eight Hon. John Wilson Croker, whose 
voluminous contributions to the " Quarterly Review" 
constituted him a red Indian in critical literature. 
His memory, to adopt the language of Mr. Maddyn, 
" is buried beneath a pyramid of scalps," and there 
let it lie. 

" Italy" was published on the 20th June, 1821, 
and by the twenty-third of that month, some of the 
journals hostile to liberal principles, had tried, 
judged, and condemned it ; though one of the 
leading faults attributed to it was that it consisted of 
two huge quarto volumes. By the 1st of July it was 
reviewed by almost every ministerial print, news- 
paper, and magazine. The attack of the " Quarterly" 
upon this work was exceedingly, and most charac- 
teristically violent. Among other sweeping assertions, 
quite unsupported by proof, the reader is informed 
that " ' Italy' is a series of offences against good 
morals, good politics, good sense, and good taste ;" 
that " this woman is utterly incorrigible," and further, 
that, " her indelicacy, ignorance, vanity, and malig- 
nity," " exceed all credence," that, in short, " every 
page teems with errors of all kinds, from the most 



disgusting down to the most ludicrous," and by way 
of excuse for not adducing proof, the Reviewer has 
the cool effrontery to assert, ct extracts could afford 
no idea of the general and homogeneous stupidity 
which pervades the work." A more sparkling or 
original raconteuse than Lady Morgan never lived ; 
yet the critic would fain persuade his readers of the 
reverse, and w T ith consummate coolness he speaks of 
" the narcotic influence of her prating, prosing, and 
plagiarism." In the same breath that he censures 
some alleged coarseness of language on the part of 
Lady Morgan, he falls into the same error himself, 
and adds : " notwithstanding the obstetric skill of 
Sir Charles Morgan, (who we believe is a man- 
midwife) this book dropt all but still-born from the 
press." More Billingsgate was probably never 
stuffed into so small a compass. This unmanly 
attack occupies little more than four pages — a cir- 
cumstance which exhibited the utter dearth of 

Among the many contemporary poetic squibs 
which exploded at Lady Morgan's expense, we are 
tempted to revive one so full of sparkling wit and 
cruel point, that a book such as ours, which professes 
to give a view of Lady Morgan's foes, as well as her 
friends, would, doubtless, be considered incomplete 
without it. It appeared anonymously; but the 
writer, now a very distinguished man, has avowed 
the authorship to us. It was written, he says, in 
college, during the first exuberance of his youthful 
genius. The reader will at once perceive that the 
poem is a parody on " LochieFs Warning." 

Sir Gharles Morgan is made to exclaim : — 

Glorvina ! Glorvina, beware of the day 

When the " Quarterly " meets thee in battle array ! 



For thy volumes, all damned, rush unread on my sight, 
Glorvina ! Glorvina, ah ! think ere you write ! 
See ! see ! where the witty and wise about town 
Are struggling, who foremost, shall trample thee down ! 
Proud Giffard before hath insulted the slain I 
. And Croker, in spleen, may pursue thee again ! 
Weep Lady ! thy prospects are faded — undone — 
Oh, weep ! but thy tears only add to this fun ! 
For their black ink is poison— a dagger their pen, 
And the book they once stab, may not waken again. 

To all this croaking about Croker, Glorvina 
replies : — 

Go preach to thy patients, thou death-telling seer, 
Or if Giffard and Croker so dreadful appear, 
Go, crouch from the war, like a recreant knight, 
Or, draw my silk shawl o'er thy organs of sight ! 

The knight continues to express his gloomy fore- 
bodings, warns Glorvina that the dirge of her glory is 
sung, and conjures her to return all lonely to her 

Glor. False wizard, avaunt ! I have marshalled my clan, 

Their pens are a thousand — there genius is one ! 

They mock thy prescriptions ! they laugh at thy breath, 

Go ! preach to thy patients of danger and death ! 

Then welcome be Croker — his smile or his frown, 

And welcome be Crawley — we'll trample them down ! 

Their colour shall vary from yellow to blue, 

Like the colour of Constable's famous Review ! 

When my heroes impassioned for victory strain, 

Sir Richard the learned ! and Ensor the vain ! 

All active, all armed, in their author's array ! 

Sir C. Glorvina, Glorvina beware of the day ! 

'Twas my studies in youth gave me mystical lore, 

And the womb of the Future, in fear I explore! 

Time trembles in pain, as his pulsus I feel, 

But fate must be known tho' I may not reveal ! 

I tell thee that London with laughter will ring, 

When the blood-hounds of Murray at Florence shall spring! 

Ho ! Colburn ! arouse thee, arouse thee with speed, 

And arm thy gazette, 'tis a moment of need, 

Ho ! Maga ! green Maga! awaken each sprite ! 

Raise — raise your oak-crutches to cover her flight ! 



Oh ! would that thy book went to sleep of itself, 

Like pamphlets unbound on a dust covered shelf; 

But mourn ! for a darker departure is near — 

The wise shall condemn, and the witty shall sneer ! 

And she, that fair Lady whose home is the Lake, 

With sworded Sir Arthur, thy doom shall partake, 

In vain shall she combat for Morgan Le Fay. 

Ghr. Down, soothless insulter, 1 scorn what you say ! 

What ages of rapture roll fair to my sight ! 

What glories to come swim before me in light! — 

Behold through the curtains of fate as I look, 

O'Donnel! and flirting with young Lalla Rookh, 

With Bertram is waltzing Glorvina the fair ! 

And Ida is wrestling with Lady Clancare ! 

Near Apostate Hemeya see Imogen's face! 

Oh never a ball such a galliard did grace ! 

In the beauty of fame they return to my sight, 

Be they saved — be they damned — I will write — I will write ! 

If " Italy" was ridiculed by superficial critics at 
home, it received cordial commendation abroad from 
men, of all others, most competent to judge it. The 
following letter from the Baron Denon proves this. 

" Chere et aimable Amie, 

"Monsieur Tennant, qui part pour FIrlande, veut 
bien se charger de cette lettre, qui au moins vous 
sera surement remise, et par laquelle vous saurez que 
nous vous aimons, que nous vous desirons, que nous 
nous occupons de vous, et en parlons tous les jours. 

" Qu'est ce que vous faites, chere amie ? Nous 
n'en savons rien de tout, et nous nous en inquietons 
dans votre interet comme dans la notre. Votre 
dernier ouvrage est toujours le plus beau : votre 
'Italie' a une force masculine, qui a conservee 
toute la grace de son origine. Je voudrais bien dans 
ce moment avoir votre riche facilite. Toutes les 
gravures de mon ouvrage sont faites. J'ecris mais 
celane m'amuse pos autant; il est si difficile d'ecrire 
sur Tart, quand. il ne faut se livrer qu'a ^imagination 


des autres, et se garder de celle qu'on aimeroit h 
avoir. Voila ou je suis en ce moment : c'est vous 
cependant qui etes cause de tout cela ! J e voudrais 
bien en etre, a vous en avoir obligation, et n' avoir 
plus qu'& vous expedier les colossales volumes. 

" Je desire bien vivement de quelque maniere que 
ce puisse etre, vous les remettre en main propre et 
vous remercier de les avoir fait. Si cela n'est pas 
encore fini, c'est encore votre faute : vous avez en- 
voye l'Europe dans mon cabinet, et il faut bien que 
je sois la, h son secours pour vous justifier, de ce que 
vous avez dit de lui. 

"Embrassez notre cher, cher Chevalier, mais pour 
moi tout seul ; je ne pardonne la distraction qu'a lui. 
J'ai votre portrait fort bien grave, que j'ai mis en 
bonne compagnie; si vous en avez un du Chevalier, 
vous me ferez un grand plaisir de me Tenvoyer. 

" Adieu, chere et aimable amie ; quand vous trou- 
verez une occasion, ecrivez moi deux mots sans le 
contact de la poste ; car ce moyen est de toute nullite 
entre nous. 

" Permettez moi de vous embrasser de toute la ten- 
dresse de Famitie la plus vraie, et la mieux sentie. 

u Denon. 

u Lady Morgan, 
" Kildare Street, Dublin." 




A long chapter in which Lady Morgan presents her Critics with 
a Rowland for an Oliver. — Thomas Campbell. — The Critical 
Chronomastix. — William Jerdan. — The " Quarterly." — Gibbets 
galore. — Colburn's letter. — " The British Critic." — Cyrus Red- 
ding. — Shoals of Slanderers and Snakes in the Grass. — Attempt 
to deprive Sir C. Morgan of his Knighthood. — Apathy of 
Jeffrey. — 44 Life of Salvator Rosa" published.—" Absenteeism." 
—Writings and Character of Sir C. Morgan. — Receptions in 
Kildare Street. — Maturiu. — Sir J. B 's rebuff. — Curry's re- 
tort. — A Masquerade. — Lady Morgan in the snow. — Dublin 
Castle. — "The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys." — Lady Morgan 
the immediate cause of tfoe birth of the " Athenaeum." — Prince 
Pucklar Moskau. — Lady Morgan's lines on the Ladies Paget. — 
Her second book on France*-— Correspondence. — Lady Morgan 
pensioned. — 44 Book of the Boudoir." — 44 The Princess."— Mrs. 
S. C. Hall. — Lady Morgan changes her residence to London. 

There appeared almost simultaneously with "Italy" 
another spirited and caustic, but, in the estimation of 
her friends, a somewhat injudicious retaliation by 
Lady Morgan upon her reviewers, under which they 
very keenly winced. To our thinking, however, it 
was the happiest and boldest effort of Lady Morgan's 
pen, and her friends have every reason to be proud 
of it. With a firm nerve, and a dauntless heart, she 
stood the brunt and returned the shaft which had 
been hurled at her fame and name. 

This spirited document was gratuitously prefixed 
by Colburn to the "New Monthly Magazine" for 



October, 1821. Colbarn printed it uniform with 
the Magazine, but paged it separately. In the 
"Times" of the day, we find the following carious 
letter from Thomas Campbell : — " It is known to 
many persons that I am editor of ' The New Monthly 
Magazine ; or, Literary Journal / it is known to all 
with whom I have conversed on the subject, that I 
wish this work to be a receptacle for calm discussion 
and liberal opinions, but not an arena of literary hos- 
tility. 1 make it no vehicle of personal attack, and 
therefore I claim a right to keep it free from the din 
of even defensive personality. Tor any exceptions to 
this rule that may seem to occur, I hold myself bound 
to give an explanation to the public, provided the 
articles containing such exceptions have been sub- 
mitted to me as Editor; but if any paper should find 
its way into the ' Magazine/ without having been 
shewn to me, I will not be responsible for its con- 
tents. Now Lady Morgan's letter in t The New 
Monthly Magazine/ published # to-day, was never seen 
by me till published, although, to ninety-nine readers 
out of one hundred, it will seem to be the leading 
article of the number. I am not Lady Morgan's 
accuser, but I decline being involved in the squabble 
between her and her enemies. She may be very 
right, and they may be very wrong; but whether she 
is in the right 'or in the wrong, her letter to her Re- 
viewers was never submitted to me as Editor of the 
work which I am known to conduct, and the pro- 
prietors of that w T ork are alone the publishers of her 

"It is now," said Lady Morgan, " twelve or four- 
teen years since the supposed literary organ of 
government gave the word to all subaltern scribes to 
bear down upon and attack whatever I should print. 
They have attacked me in every point where the 



woman was most susceptible, the author most sensi- 
tive. They have attacked my public profession, and 
private character, my person, my principles, my 
country, my friends, my kindred, even my dress. 
They have done everything to injure — but praise me ; 
for, after all, * It is their slaver kills, and not their 
bite/ Hitherto, I have been, for the interests per* 
haps of truth and of literature, something too loth 
' to stir at these indignities/ Even now, if I come 
forth among my nameless assailants, 'I swear by 
yea and nay/ or any other pretty oath, 'tis more in 
fun than fear — less in spite than sport. The shafts 
they have long let fly at me, and all that is dearest to 
me, have been shot from masked batteries, and 
1 dipped in double venom/ The arrow with which 
I returned their assault, will fall poisonless, though 
not perhaps pointless. Mine, I trust, will be true 
lady's archery, fair, though irregular ; my aim taken 
in the garish eye of day — my name announced — my 
cognizance blazoned — my device known — and my 
heart worn, as it always has been, ' On my sleeve, 
for (even) daws to peck at/ Thus simply armed 
and frankly avowed, unmasked, unshielded but by 
truth, alone in the midst of my ambushed foes, I take 
my ground ; ' And as I truly fight, so help me 
Heaven/ The accidental circumstance of being born 
and educated in a laud stamped with the impress of 
six centuries of degradation— the natural tendency of 
a female temperament to a prompt, uncalculating 
sympathy — and the influence of that stirring quality 
called indignation (as often a constitutional as a 
moral affection) —gave a direction to my feelings, 
and a colour to my mind and writings, which from 
my ' youth upwards' have remained unchanged and 

u Ireland, the country of my birth and my com- 


miseration, became, almost in childhood, my in- 
spiration and my theme; and with little reading, less 
judgment, but not one interested view, (for when 
was youth sordid?) I embraced the cause of the 
Irish Catholics, of whom, personally, I knew not 

From Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, " Italy" 
received little mercy. Maga, of that day, was con- 
ducted on principles very different from those which 
now guide it. The hostile language to which it often 
gave expression, occasionally rose to a pitch of in- 
temperance which baffle all description. It more 
than once led to bloodshed ; and the sad fate of John 
Scott is too well known. Lady Morgan grappled 
with her potent foe, and retaliated in this wise : 
"The Edinburgh Magazine! Land of the learned 
and the liberal, land of the Humes, the Robertsons, 
the Playfairs, and the Leslies, can you suffer the 
time-honoured name of your lettered capital to be 
prefixed to such a thing as this? But nations, like 
Heaven, must sometimes submit to hear themselves 
profaned, and to have their venerated names taken 
in vain for the worst of purposes, and in the worst 
of causes, and now t worse doom brave gallants/ 
Trot him out here on his pasteboard hobby, this lord 
of literary misrule — this critical chronomastix of the 
Edinburgh Magazine." This jaw-breaker, we may 
observe, was bestowed by Giffard on the herd of 
libellists who infested the times of Ben Jonson. 
Lady Morgan proceeded in the strain we have indi- 
cated, and left her foes in no very enviable plight. 
Mr. Jerdan's influential literary organ she spoke of 
as " floundering, and flouncing in the shallows of its 
own eternal dullness." This stroke of satire was 
provoked by Jerdan having declared that on finishing 
the first volume of " Italy/* the " reader will have 



learned little about the Italian cities ; and nothing at 
all about the manners and customs of the inhabi- 
tants," and further, that "the reader will have 
found amusement and instruction in scarcely one of 
Lady Morgan's pages." The critic in the same 
breath, pronounced Byron to be no original poet, 
and that he ought not to be read ! All her literary 
foes were gibbetted. u I would shew you off," she 
wrote, "as showmen exhibit apes, not for their 
beauty or utility, but for the malignant ingenuity of 
their foul and mischievous tricks." 

But it was in the Edinburgh Magazine that Lady 
Morgan chiefly fleshed her sword. She was justly 
indignant at being called an 99 ambulating scribbler of 
bad novels, inditing two goodly quartos, every page 
of which, almost, is sprinkled over with more or less 
of nonsense, ignorance, indecency, ir religion, Jaco- 
binism, and premeditated perversion of facts. 
"We have toiled," it went on to say, "through 
blasphemy and Jacobinism, calumny and falsehood ;" 
the authoress was " a petticoated ultra liadical au- 
thor," and her book " a monstrous literary abortion." 

" But this is nothing," wrote Lady Morgan, " he 
has invented sentiments for me, expressive of the 
most shameless libertinism which ever disgraced any 
work, male or female." And Lady Morgan stooped 
to prove in detail the utter falsity of the charges so 
unscrupulously heaped upon her. "I appeal," she 
wrote, " from this false witness, to the readers of 
9 Italy/ " and again 99 alas ! am I to incur the odium 
of indecency ? — the worst a woman can sustain, the 
last she would choose to bear !" Having convicted 
her critics of many shameful distortions, she added, 
" this is the way I have always been reviewed, the 
object being coute qui coute to stop the sale of my 
works, and prevent my writing at all." 



The weapon, however, which had been raised to 
cut off the sale of her books, not only fell inipo- 
tently, but recoiled upon the arm of the wielder. In 
reply to the attack of the "Quarterly," which endea- 
voured to prove that " Italy" had no manner of sale, 
Mr. Colburn published a letter in the "Times" 
dated November 24th 1821. Having convicted the 
Keviewer of various critical expedients more ingenious 
than ingenuous, Mr. Colburn spiritedly concluded 
thus : " When he has the effrontery to assert, that 
the Travels were announced before the journey was 
commenced; — that the price of the work paid the 
expences of the tour; — that he lias not heaid of any 
voluntary reader, who has been able to get through 
the first volume; — that the work dropt still-born 
from the press ; — that the public do not care about 
the book ; and that the public will not buy it. 
"Who believes him? and what opinion must the 
thousands of buyers and readers of the work form of 
this Editor and his Eeview ? But to shew, in the most 
satisfactory manner, the inefficacy of such attempts to 
crush a most interesting writer, I am ready to prove, 
that five hundred copies of this worK were sold on 
the first day of publication ; that more copies have 
been disposed of during the last month, and since 
the appearance of the ' Quarterly Review/ than in 
any preceding one since the day of publication ; 
that a new edition is in preparation ; that two edi- 
tions, amounting to 4000 copies, have been printed at 
Paris, and another in Belgium : and, as a further 
testimony to the value of Lady Morgan's writings, I 
seize the present opportunity of publicly declaring 
my entire satisfaction at the result of the undertak- 
ing ; and that I shall be most happy to receive from 
the author another work of equal interest, on the 
same terms." 



The price paid by Mr. Colburn for " Italy" was 
considerable. We catch a glimpse of its extent in 
the following anti-critic diatribe. a It is to the 
support of that public I owe it, that in spite of the 
shoals and shallows, which have impeded my literary 
course, I have still been enabled to keep my little 
bark afloat. Pirates, and privateers, weekly, monthly, 
and quarterly, with their letters of marque from high 
protecting powers, have opened their broadsides, and 
played off their small arms in vain. Public opinion 
was still my pilot; and, towed safely into port by its 
assistance, I have never yet been run a-ground. The 
price given for my last venture from Italy, a price 
c Enough to bear a royal merchant down/ is the 
best answer to those who have endeavoured to under- 
value the cargo." 

Lady Morgan fought the ground inch by inch. 
The most paltry criticisms she stooped to strangle. 
Her reviewer, in analysing the style of " Italy." 
said " we meet with Europe subjugated (enslaved) 
to slavery.*" But replied Lady Morgan, " according 
to my Irish bog Latin, ' subjugated' from its deri- 
vation, means literally ' passed under the yoke V 
It is related that the Romans did so upon an occasion 

" * Patience perforce with wilful choler meeting $' 

but they were not therefore enslaved. The Reviewer 
is referred to any Roman History abridged for the 
use of young ladies." 

Lady Morgan's peroration was fine. u And now 
my Lord of literary Misrule I dismiss you ! You 
may back your hobby, and retire from the lists ; 
grateful for the distinction which has been accorded 
you in being thus pre-eminently held up to public 
derision, as best representing the corps to which you 



" ' Away ! — wretched Impostor ! 

Self-loving Braggart ! 

Scorn of all the Muses ! 

Go revel with thy ignorant admirers; 
Let worthy names alone/ 

" For you, Messrs. Constable and Co., whose names 
appear prefixed to a work, to which the Tonsons and 
the Dodsleys would scarcely have lent theirs, I call 
upon you for your thanks. It is not improbable, 
that your Literary Miscellany, but for me, might 
have been confined to the admiration of the tea-table 
coteries of obscure villages, or the subscription 
reading-rooms of provincial towns ; or those still 
lesser but pretending circles, of ' benign ceruleans/ 
who put up with f the cheap and dirty' of second 
rate monthly critical Reviews ! But now I prefix 
the prize-article of your Magazine to the front of 
volumes destined to circulate through Europe, 
through America and to reach all British colonies 
wherever British enterprise has placed them. My 
French publisher shall affix your ' Review on Italy/ 
done into the dialect of Les Halles, to the second 
Edition of his translation ; and thus, preserved, your 
Magazine may be quoted by future and foreign 
literati, as a curious specimen of the low state to 
which criticism and periodical publication were 
brought in Great Britain by ' Party spirit/ in the 
beginning of the 19th century; and, still more, it 
may serve as a proof of the contempt in which such 
works were held by contemporary writers — even by 
one whom they most reviled, and that one — a 

The €t British Critic/' than a journal of consider- 
able authority, but which, has since been gathered 
to its editorial fathers, attacked Lady Morgan with 
singular asperity and coarseness. ft The ' British 


Critic' " remarked Lady Morgan, " is edited by a 
clergyman ; its contributors are clergymen, and 
its readers are said to be exclusively clergymen! 
From such ' spirits pure/ much might have been 
expected, and whatever, in their opinions, were my 
manifold sins, still I might have hoped more from 
their Christian mildness, than from the uncharitable 
severity of my laical judges. To their pages be- 
longed a tone of evangelical reproof — a pious effort 
to lead the sinner to repentance ! a fair summary of 
errors, and a gentle exhortation to recant them/' 
Lady Morgan having quoted from " The British 
Critic" an unseemly paragraph in which the phrase 
"matrimonial animal" was used, she replied "that 
it seemed a rather light expression to apply to that 
1 honorable estate which signifies unto us, the 
mystical union between Christ and his Church/ 99 
Alluding to a pedantic phrase of the " Critic," she 
went on to say : " This ' synthetical' debut, of the 
Reverend reviewer, is only intended as an attack — 
not on my book — but on my attachment to my 
husband, on the coincidence of our opinions, and 
the unity of our sentiments, which his Reverence, 
in- a tone of what he thinks € right pleasant' irony, 
terms an happy e androgynous organization' — ' a 
beautiful accord of intellectual hermaphroditism !" 
For 6 a man and wife' not to live ' like cat and 
dog' may be a palpable innovation (in the Reverend's 
opinion), a symptom of radical reform, and a vile 
attack upon the social system ! — it may be a state 
which he and (to use his own phrase) his ' conjugal 
yoke-fellow' may never have endured; — but surely, 
whatever may have been his own private sentiments 
on the subject, it is hardly accordant with the sancti- 
monious gravity of that ' church and state' breviary, 
'The British Critic,' to make married happiness 



and unity the subject of a sustained and 'right 
pleasant' ridicule, through two whole pages and a 

At a further stage of her argument, she observed 
that those grave and deliberate falsifications of an 
author's text might be part of the church polity : 
u If this be the case, the interests of social order are 
at stake, and the author sacrificed (like the victim 
of former times) may writhe, but cannot resist under 
the knife of the High Priest, who performs the rites 
of immolation." Lady Morgan fought " The Bri- 
tish Critic" with great acumen and calmness. In the 
conflict she never forgot the lady, or assumed the 
amazon. She showered her sparks of diamond wit 
before her swinish adversary. An idea of the dirt in 
which he grovelled may be inferred from the follow- 
ing elegant quotation with which Lady Morgan's 
reverend Reviewer summed up her character. 

" Herewith she spew'd out of her filthy maw 
A flood of poison, horrible and black : 
Her vomit full of books and papers was." 

Lady Morgan was of opinion that the general 
interests of literature have been rather injured than 
benefitted by the prevalence and influence of period- 
ical Reviews. Even the best and first of such pub- 
lications have been accused of national partialities, 
of personal predilections, cliquery, and of being sub- 
jected to the influence and interests of the publisher 
for whom they are edited; while with respect to the 
whole corps of professional critics, Lady Morgan con- 
sidered that their works have tended to check the 
free play of public judgment by forestalling its deci- 
sions, and in pretending to guide public taste only 
enfeebled it. Lady Morgan cannot be regarded as a 
disinterested authority on the subject ; but be this 



as it may, she repeatedly scorned the pretensions of 
critics, and denied their right to throw literary opi- 
nion into leading strings. " By imposing commen- 
taries/' she said, " and scanty analyses, they have 
saved the indolent the trouble of reading, and the 
shallow the pains of thinking; they have supplied 
dogmatizing pretension with a tempting assortment 
of ready cut-and-dried decisions upon works un- 
known to it in the original ; and thus furnished it 
with the means of giving the law in society, from 
whence those more highly gifted with original views 
and independent judgments withdraw in disgust, if 
not in intimidation. It is also from the multiplicity 
of periodical reviews of every calibre, and of every 
price, that the sphere of blue-stocking coterie-ship 
lias been extended, and that literary discussion, in 
more enlightened circles, has been placed under the 
ban of ridicule; for all fear to share that ' dread 
laugh' raised against those Messieurs Trissotins, 
who prey on the pages of periodical publications, as 
silk-worms feed on less noxious leaves, and spin out 
again the light nutriment they have imbibed, until 
the flimsy fragile web, though it catch none but gad- 
flies, usurps and supplies the place of stuff of no- 
bler texture, and more sterling material/' 

The furtherance of the cause of Catholic Emanci- 
pation was the generous motive which led to all the 
national tales of Lady Morgan; and it was doubtless 
the transparency of the object, and the influence of 
the means, which enkindled the wrath of most of her 
foes. Her works having been translated into several 
continental languages, the disabilities under which 
Ireland laboured were thus published throughout the 
civilized world. 

It will be remembered that the letter from Thomas 
Campbell, written in his capacity of editor of the 


lady morgan, her career, 

" New Monthly," contained a few passages somewhat 
slighting in their tone towards Lady Morgan. The 
following paragraph from the pen of Cyrus Bedding, 
Campbell's friend and colleague on the "New 
Monthly Magazine," is not without interest. It is 
extracted from "fifty Years Becollections," v. iii. p. 
215. "I cannot avoid mentioning Lady Morgan, 
although T do not profess to make mention of living 
contemporaries. I do Lady Morgan feeble justice in 
recording her warm-heartedness, her eminent talent, 
her love of country, and sense of independance. I 
have nothing to retract after thirty-four years ac- 
quaintance, except my own apparent neglect in her 
regard, justified by absence and causes which I need 
not state. The fidelity of Lady Morgan to nature's 
truth, in her pictures of existing life, the advocacy 
she has ever displayed for what is just and generous, 
and the sympathy every honourable mind must feel 
in respect to the splenetic attacks made upon her, by 
unmanly writers, are obvious things. Lady Morgan 
could well afford to pay the usual penalty of talent. 
She drew with a correct pencil the wrongs of her 
country, and laboured to inculcate on its enemies 
correct principles for its government/' 

As Beviews, political and literary in France and 
England, had not been found sufficiently influential 
in suppressing the writings of Lady Morgan, whole 
volumes of animadversion were got up by the ultras 
of both countries. One was published by a gallant 
colonel, "Who," as she observed in noticing the cir- 
cumstance, " introduced himself at my house in Dub- 
lin (having no other mode of making ray acquaintance) 
where he was hospitably entertained, and presented 
to many persons of rank and fashion. A few weeks 
after appeared his book written against my ' France.' 
When he read to me the complimentary passages in 



the opening of his MS., I little guessed the virulence 
which was to be displayed in its subsequent pages." 
A person undertook to translate " France " into the 
vernacular language of that country, but it was done 
so falsely that Lady Morgan found herself competed 
to protest against it in the French journals. The 
same hand also brought out a garbled translation 
of "Florence M'Carthy" in opposition to one done, 
as her Ladyship said, "under her own eye 33 where- 
upon her hypercritical assailants exclaimed, " Which 
eye ?" Damaging criticisms and biographies of Lady 
Morgan were also written by two ladies of notorious 
character whom she refused to visit. Mr. Play fair pub- 
lished a work entitled " France, not the France of Lady 
Morgan/' and against Italy there appeared a ponderous 
pamphlet said to be the production of a military officer, 
holding distinguished appointments under the British 
government. In the title to this book, Lady Morgan 
was accused, in large capitals, of u Calumnies and 
Misrepresentations." Throughout the work, the writer 
seemed to regard a difference of political opinion as 
a sufficient cause for placing his opponent beyond 
the pale of human courtesies. His very title page, 
as applied to a subject on which two honest opi- 
nions might be held, and prefixed to a work which 
contradicted no material fact that could have come 
within Lady Morgan's cognizance, if not in itself a 
a calumny and misrepresentation/' was at least a 
discourtesy which came with an ill grace from one 
whose very first charge against the authoress is a 
want of courtesy to Lord Bentinck. " For the private 
and personal character of Lord Bentinck," said Lady 
Morgan, " I have the greatest respect, and I should be 
most sincerely grieved, if in the heat of discussion, I 
had penned a single word that would hurt his feelings." 
With the exception of Mr. Croker, and some of 



the smaller fry of critics who echoed his voice and 
views, Lady Morgan never made a private enemy by 
the many satirical and singularly happy sketches of 
real life and men, of which she was the author. "No 
writer in our opinion/' observes the ' Illustrated Lon- 
don News/ "ever bit off the Lords and Ladies of the 
Almacks of that day with a vein of humour happier; 
and it is no slight proof of the fair and impartial 
generalisation with which she chose her characters, 
and of the inoffensive though piquant style of her 
portraiture, that the caricatures in which so many 
of their best friends might have recognised some of 
their traits never were received as personalities, never 
were known to give offence, never diminished by 
one member the happy circle which loved to crowd 
round the gifted artist/' 

The malignity with which the band of desperado 
critics pursued this brilliant woman knew not where 
to stop. In January, 1822, the influence of some 
high Tories so far prevailed, that the opinion of the 
notorious Orange Attorney-General, Saurin, with 
that of his colleague, the Solicitor-General, were 
taken whether the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland had 
any power to confer the honour of knighthood ; and 
both gave it as their decided opinion, that since the 
Union no such right has existed. The object is said, 
whether rightly or wrongly, to have been the de- 
thronement of Ladies Morgan and Clarke. A copy 
of the opinion was sent to Lord Welleslev, as an- 
nounced in the " Gentleman's Magazine" of the 
day; but the question, it would seem', fell into 
abeyance. Among those whose honours were de- 
clared to be null and void by the law officers of 
the crown in lb22, were Sir Arthur Clarke, (brother- 
in-law to Lady Morgan) Sir Edward Stanley, Sir 
Thomas Whelan, Sir Charles Morgan, Sir John 



Stevenson (Moore's colleague,) Sir Thomas Moriarty, 
and Sir William Bethara. The latter, however, was 
a staunch Conservative: and if the design of the 
Tories were really to bring the Morgans and Clarkes 
to the dust, some friends must necessarily have 
perished in the wreck. 

It is, we think, hardly creditable to the late Lord 
Jeffrey, who professed to conduct the " Edinburgh 
Review" on thoroughly liberal principles, that he 
should not have made some effort to sustain our 
hathoress against the truculent attacks of its . critical 
rival and political foe, the " Quarterly." Yet Jeffrey 
held his peace. The contemptuous silence which he 
observed towards Lady Morgan, was if possible more 
damaging than the censure which no one knew how 
to wield with more telling effect. At length in July, 
1824:, the " Edinburgh Review" broke silence on 
the subject ; and the very first allusion to our au- 
thoress, under her maiden or married name, which 
found expression in the great Whig Review, 
occurs in an exceedingly acrimonious critique, on her 
"Life of Salvator Rosa." This, if not as complete 
as it might be, is surely a very fascinating art- 

A contemporary satire on Lady Morgan, called 
" Glorvina's Warning" notices with complaisance the 
unworthy hostility of the "Edinburgh Review." 

" Let her fly from the anger of Jeffrey's sure eye, 
Ah ! home let her speed — for the havoc is nigh I" 

The next glimpse which the readers of the " Edin- 
burgh Review" obtain of Lady Morgan is in the year 
1825, when her " Absenteeism " apparently furnishes 
the critic w r ith a theme. But the paper is a mere 
statistical disquisition on absentees ; and the name 
of Lady Morgan is mentioned once only, and that 


with neither praise or censure. For many years 
after no further notice is taken by the " Edinburgh 
Review" of the labours of Lady Morgan. 

The reason which induced Lady Morgan to select 
the life of Salvator Rosa in preference to that of other, 
perhaps more illustrious, Italian Painters was the 
peculiar character of the man, rather than the extra- 
ordinary merits of the artist. But though enthu- 
siastically admiring the works of this great Neapolitan 
master, she estimated still more highly the qualities 
of the Italian Patriot who stood in the foreground of 
times not the most forward or tolerant, and in the 
teeth of persecution openly and fearlessly declared 
his sentiments. Rosa possessed a powerful intellect, 
bound by strong philosophical sinews, much deep 
feeling, with a wild and gloomy imagination, which 
came forth even in his most petulent sketches and 
careless designs. Lady Morgan having found during 
her Italian researches that Salvator Rosa's life had 
been greatly misrepresented, and strongly denounced, 
undertook the somewhat Quixotic task of combating 
these strictures, and in doing so, she obtained no 
thanks from the RomanCatholic party, and much abuse 
from the Conservatives. 

In this, as in other works which preceded it, 
Lady Morgan expressed sentiments which, however 
creditable as strongly favouring liberty, were perhaps 
more or less open to objection in consequence of the 
intemperate language w T hich sometimes clothed them. 
"The strong national enthusiasm of childhood," 
observes Mr. H. F. Chorley, a friend of Lady Mor- 
gan, "at once somewhat indiscriminate in its warmth 
and limited in its scope, will be seen to have ended 
in fearless and decided political partisanship, in the 
espousing of ultra liberal doctrines, abroad as well 
as at home." But let us hear Lady Morgan's vindi- 



cation. "For myself at least/' she writes in her 
Preface to the last edition of O'Donnel, " born and 
dwelling in Ireland amidst my countrymen and their 
sufferings, I saw, and I described, I felt, and I 
pleaded ; and if a political bias was ultimately taken, 
it originated in the natural condition of things, and 
not in ' malice aforethought' of the writer. The 
same womanly sympathies have governed my writings 
and directed my views for other countries; and I 
have never denounced a public wrong which has not 
come home to my own feelings through the spectacle 
of private suffering. In this, the proprieties of the 
sex cannot fairly be considered as compromised ; and 
if the first step towards observation be to feel, and 
the second only to think, the female temperament 
cannot be so adverse to the perception of the higher 
moral truths as has been vulgarly and plausibly pre- 
tended. From the rack . and the faggot of the 
middle ages, to the penal laws of Ireland, and the 
carcere duro of modern Austria, there are sources of 
the deepest of all human interests, and details of the 
wildest romance, beyond all that the most fertile 
imagination can devise, or fictitious narrative present. 
These are mines for the novelist to explore ; and 
should they yield likewise lessons of practical wisdom, 
adapted to the awakening intelligence of the people 
of the great European republic, the circumstance is 
surely no derogation from their fitness for his pur- 

" Absenteeism/' which was published by Colburn 
in 1825, and met with a large sale, had previously ap« 
peared in detached papers through the medium of 
the "New Monthly Magazine." Written with that 
flowing energetic eloquence which characterised all 
the productions of the Irish de Stael, the work bears 
ample testimony of her love of fatherland, deep re- 


search, extensive reading, play of fancy, and piquancy 
of satire. The peculiar bent of Lady Morgan's 
mind, however, inevitably imparted a picturesque 
turn to her ideas, and induced her to view the subject 
less as an economist, than as a poet and a woman. 
To this graceful performance, Sir Charles Morgan 
contributed a soundly studied and elegantly written 

In her exertions to promote Catholic enfranchise- 
ment, Lady Morgan found in Sir Charles a zealous 
and most efficient ally. During the five and twenty 
years which this gifted and amiable man spent in 
Ireland, he devoted a considerable portion of his 
time, talents, and means to furthering the Catholic 
cause. Like the ancestors of the Geraldines, he soon 
became more Irish than the Irish themselves. He 
advocated the cause of the people and their religion 
not only in the public journals, but in the reviews 
and periodicals of the time : he loved civil and reli- 
gious liberty with enthusiastic ardour, and his house, 
both in Dublin and London, was always open to 
sufferers in that great cause from whatever land they 

Sir Charles Morgan was an able and researchful, 
as well as an eloquent writer. He soon became very 
favorably known for the light and sparkling style in 
which he conveyed valuable truths combined with curi- 
ous fancies. That the knight's prestige was not purely 
local is evidenced by the fact that his " Philosophy 
of Life" and " Philosophy of Morals" were translated 
into French by the Count de Tracy, an eminent me- 
taphysician, and into Italian by another hand equally 
competent. To Lady Morgan's books of travel in 
Trance and Italy, Sir Charles contributed the chapters 
on law, medical science, and statistics. But his 
views on religion were unfortunately not as orthodox 



as might be desired. His sentiments had a decided 
tendency to materialism , and some of his metaphy- 
sical interpolations in the writings of Lady Morgan, 
drew her into not a few difficulties. 

His disposition, however, was thoroughly amiable 
and endearing. Mr. Staunton, one of the oldest 
Irish friends of Sir Charles, writes : " He was in 
every way a most interesting and estimable person. 
Everybody heard of his talents and accomplishments, 
but no person who did not know him long and inti- 
mately could sufficiently appreciate the suavity of his 
manners; the kindness of his heart, the warmth and 
steadiness of his attachments, his universal philan- 
throphy ; his hatred of every species of wrong doing, 
and his thorough devotedness to the cause of civil 
and religious liberty in all climes, and under all cir- 
cumstances. He was one of the most agreeable ac- 
quaintances in the world — always in good humour, 
unaffected, kind, considerate, sympathising and hos- 
pitable. In all the relations of life he was ex- 
emplary." Cyrus Redding, speaking of Sir C. Mor- 
gan, says that " he was one of the most truthful men 
he ever met." 

A writer has advanced the opinion that Sir Charles 
was of humble and impoverished extraction. No- 
thing can be more erroneous. Lady Morgan refers 
in her Diary to her husband's aunt, "a wealthy old 
lady de province, who has more than once turned 
the scale of an election, and who boasts of her illus- 
trious race as being descended from Morgan the 
buccaneer, and sister to the brave General Morgan 
in India." The old lady seems to have been a deci- 
dedly strong-minded woman. A gang of burglars 
having broken into her house she went alone to see 
what was the matter, and having found a fellow 
getting out at the window, she caught him by the 


leg, and held him until she examined every feature of 
his face so as to be able to swear to him. Her 
friends advised her not to prosecute lest the gang 
should avenge it, but she exclaimed, u Justice is 
justice, and the villain shall be hanged." 

The house occupied by Sir Charles and Lady 
Morgan during their long sojourn in Ireland^ was 
No. 35, Kildare Street, opposite the great aris- 
tocratic Club which takes its name from that 
thoroughfare. It is a long and showy house exte- 
riorly ; but not possessing any back rooms, the im- 
posing appearance of size which it presents to the 
passer-by is, in a great degree, deceptive. The small 
portico which still shelters the hall-door was erected 
by the Morgans. 

In this agreeably situated mansion there was regu- 
larly held for a long series of years, a still more 
voluminous series of most delightful and select lite- 
rary reunions, which are remembered by the sur- 
viving favoured few who had the privilege of access, 
with enthusiastic feelings of pride and pleasure. A 
constant guest was the brilliant, eccentric, and almost 
forgotten Charles Robert Maturin. Domestic sor- 
rows and pecuniary reverses threw a gloom over the 
latter years of his existence ; and, as a contemporary 
record informs us, every inducement failed to make 
him desert his melancholy hearth save the intellectual 
circle which Lady Morgan illuminated by her spark- 
ling wit, or the romantic solitudes of TTicklow 
wherein some of his richest veins of inspiration had 
been caught in happier bygone days. Among those 
who figured at Lady Morgan's conversazioni were 
Sheil, Curran, Lords Cloncurry, Charlemont, Dun- 
sany, and Miltown, Hamilton Rowan, Thomas 
Moore, General Cockburn, Edward Moore, Judge 
Fletcher, North, Finlay, Kirwan the chemist, Pro- 



fessor Radichi T.C.D., Chief-Baron Woulfe, Staun- 
ton, Berwick, Corry, and the accomplished kins- 
women of the hostess, Lady and the Misses Clarke. 
The rising artistic talent of Ireland received constant 
attention from Lady Morgan. Comerford, Mul- 
rennin, and Lover were constant guests. Kirwan, 
to whom we have alluded, was a man of eccentric 
and methodical habits. In declining one of Lady 
Morgan's invitations he urged, as an excuse, that it 
was not shaving day. 

Lady Morgan occasionally wore a patronising air 
which was not at all times agreeable to the persons 
brought in contact with her. The following little 
anecdote proves this. P — only went once or twice 
to the evening receptions at Kildare Street, and de- 
parted with the impression that he would rather not 
repeat the visit. Lady Morgan asked L — to try 
and persuade P — to come ; but L — was obliged to 
tell her that his friend was a man of peculiar tem- 
perament, and preferred to remain away. 

Like Moore — whom she resembled in more ways 
than one, in size and elastic constitution of mind — 
her weakness consisted in a too strong desire for 
aristocratic society ; but unlike him she ruled in the 
circle where she moved. She was also excessively 
fond of securing ".Lions." When Sir J — B — 
visited Dublin previous to undertaking his onerous 

duties in C ; Lady Morgan invited him to come 

and take tea with her. "My stay and time is 
limited/' he replied, u but if it is merely to take a 
quiet cup tete-a-tete with yourself, I shall have very 
great pleasure." The stipulation was agreed to, and 
an evening named j but a day or two after, the Lion 
received a note to the following effect. " Dear Sir 
John — Do not forget the cup of tea and me. You 
need not fear that I will have any gaping folk to 



stare and bore you — I have asked none but noble- 
men of high rank, with whom you cannot fail to 
feel at home and pleasant." "1 was so vexed," ob- 
served Sir J — B — , as he told the anecdote, "that 
I immediately wrote to say that during the limited 
period of my stay in Dublin, 1 wished to spend my 
time in the society of intellectual people from whom 
I might get some useful information, and that 1 
feared it would not be in my power to join her lady- 
ship's titled friends on that evening." 

It rarely happened, however, that Lady Morgan's 
receptions w 7 ere exclusively composed of coroneted 
folk. Her evening meetings at 35, Kildare Street, 
rendered it, for many years, a complete centre of 
Opinion in Dublin, and were not without influence 
in promoting the Catholic cause. Here the Catholic 
leaders invariably learned the latest and most au- 
thentic news of Cabinet thoughts, divisions, and diffi- 
culties. Lady Morgan maintained a correspondence 
with some of the most influential political person- 
ages ; and the substance of their letters frequently 
oozed out, and shaped the course of the democratic 
leaders accordingly. In Mr. Torrens M'Cullagh's 
Life of Sheil we have some illustrations of this fact. 
For instance, u It happened that one evening at the 
house of Lady Morgan, a letter from Mr. Hyde Vil- 
liers to his brother (the present Earl of Clarendon), 
then Commissioner of Customs in Dublin, was 
shewn to Mr. Woulfe. It presented anew the con- 
siderations stated by Lord Anglesey ; and coming 
from one who was believed to be aware of the feel- 
ings and sentiments of the government, it carried no 
little weight. The contents of the letter were com- 
municated to Mr. Sheil, who invited a second party 
to meet at dinner the following evening." 

A poetical squib of the day casually refers in so 



humorous a way to these evening receptions of 
"Miladi," as Denon and La Fayette called her, that 
we are tempted to jot down the entire stanza from 

" Och Dublin City there is no doubting 

Bates every city upon the say ; 
"Tis there you'd hear O'Connell spouting 

An' Lady Morgan makin' tay; 
For 'tis the capital o' the finest Nation, 

Wid charmin' pisantry upon a fruitful sod, 
Fightin' like divils for conciliation, 

An' hatin' each other for the love of God." 

The rapidity and power with which Lady Morgan 
wielded pithy but playful argument, attracted some 
wonder, and not a little admiration. Seated on her 
little throne, she has frequently given battle to a 
dozen expert logicians at the same moment. 

Apropos of her conversational contests, there is an 
amusing anecdote related of Mr. Curry, who, in a 
spirited discussion with her Ladyship at length got 
the worst of it. Our authoress, exaggerating the 
fashion of the day, wore little, or indeed we might 
say, no sleeves whatever to her dress; and a mere 
strap over her shoulders supported it. Curry was 
walking away from her coterie, when she called out, 
a Ah ! come back, Mr. Curry, and acknowledge that 
you are fairly beaten." " At any rate," said he 
turning round, " I have this consolation, you can't 
laugh at me in your sleeve." The portrait prefixed to 
the last edition of " The Wild Irish Girl," furnishes 
an idea of Lady Morgau's style of wearing apparel 
thirty years ago. 

The great secret of Lady Morgan's remarkable 
longevity, unflagging spirits, and unfading memory 
to the last, was doubtless traceable to the care with 
which, from her earliest days of authorcraft, she ab- 




stained from overtasking the brain, or making a toil 
of a pleasure. She never wrote to exhaustion, or 
drained the cup of inspiration to the dregs. For 
each hour of hard labour she took two for relaxation; 
and in every accessible bit of frolic and festivity she 
participated with hearty raciness and abandon. For 
instance, at the gay fancy ball given in Dublin by 
the Lady Mayoress in 1818, (a newspaper report of 
which lies before us) Lady Morgan is announced as 
supporting " with her wonted vivacity and talent" 
the part of a French Flower Girl. Sir Charles 
Morgan sustains the character of a French Peasant, 
Sir Arthur Clarke that of an old Grandmamma, Lord 
Cloncurry a Friar, General Cockburn, Sir Peter 
Teazle ; " Two superb and tasteful dominos," Lords 
Charlemont and Caulfield; a Bogwood Man, Mr. 
Burrowes, and "the Merry Wives of Windsor," 
Mesdames Crampton and Bushe. A few weeks after- 
wards, Mrs. Putland gave a fancy ball at which, says 
the paper of the day, " Ladies Morgan and Clarke 
with Sir Arthur Clarke, as a fiddler, supported the 
character of Ballad Singers with great spirit." 

Lady Morgan was probably induced as much by a 
sense of duty, as by inclination, to participate in 
every accessible source of gaiety and excitement in 
Dublin. For how could she be reasonably expected 
to depict scenes with accuracy of which she had not 
ocular demonstration and experience? "Whether," 
it has been justly observed by a contemporary critic, 
" whether it is a review of volunteers in the Phoenix 
Park, or a party at the Castle, a masquerade, a meet- 
ing of United Irishmen, a riot at the Dublin Thea- 
tre, or a pig-day at Bog Moy— in every change of 
scene and situation our authoress wields the pen of 
a ready writer." The volunteer review in the Phoenix 
Park under the auspices of the Duke of Belvoir 


(Rutland) to which Lady Morgan's critic alludes as a 
graphic sketch may be found in the third chapter of 
"The O'Briens and the OTlahertys." Another 
prime secret of Lady Morgan's good health and long 
life, was the regular walking exercise which, in all 
weathers, she daily performed. Round Leinster 
Lawn, recently so much altered by the fine edi- 
fices on each side, it was the daily custom of Lady 
Morgan to walk before dinner for two hours or more. 
The winter season of 1826 was one of great severity. 
Snow, many feet deep, filled the streets ; the pave- 
ment was a glacier ; and every roof sent down its 
avalanche to the risk of the unthinking heads which 
entrusted themselves within its reach. Industry 
stood petrified ; the poor perished ; hospitality closed 
its door, and diners-out began to fear that they 
should not even dine at home. An occasional sledge 
rattled over the crisp and crackling snow, while 
street urchins skated along the congealed gutter, and 
pelted snow-balls freely. The sensible folk, in their 
own estimation, preferred the fireside to the iceberg ; 
and notwithstanding the pangs of dispepsia, remained 
hermetically encased in rugs and fauteuils. Lady 
Morgan in a " Fragment of a Journal" writes: 
u Among the first to break through this quarantine 
was myself. Occupying an old-fashioned house, in a 
dull, old-fashioned street, (which owes its distinction 
to the former residence of the illustrious family of 
Ireland's only duke) I was tempted to take advan- 
tage of its vicinity to Leinster Lawn, (the garden of 
the ex-palace of the Geraldines), in search of fresh 
air and blood-stirring exercise. . Muffled in furs and 
plunged in snow boots, I was floundering through 
its white and untracked space, when two black spots 
at the further extremity of the grounds, near the 
gate which opens to the privileged who hold its 

R 2 


key in Merrion Square, caught my attention." 
They grew in size as Lady Morgan approached, and 
what she at first took for two crows, proved on closer 
inspection, to be two lovely children of the higher ranks 
of life, standing knee-deep in snow, each endeavour- 
ing to support the other. Their noses were blue, 
their lips swollen, and their tears congealed as they 
fell. Lady Morgan released them from their jeo- 
pardy, rubbed their little limbs, and wiped their 
bleared cheeks. A very long dialogue follows whicli 
would seem out of place to transfer to these pages. 
The anecdote shews the singular courage with which 
Lady Morgan in the severest weather, allowed no 
obstacle to deter her from regular daily exercise. It 
may well be supposed that these walks gave her a 
generous appetite. A distinguished literary character 
writes, with an apology for committing to paper so 
uninteresting a topic : " Her memory should also be 
respected for her attention to the culinary art — in 
the words of a learned French writer — ' that first of 
all arts which procures us the most frequent and 
most durable enjoyment/ In her continental tours 
she did not overlook the important knowledge for 
which Archestratus visited foreign lands in the most 
famous days of Athens. This gustative and intel- 
lectual Greek, the friend of the sons of Pericles, tra- 
velled only with a view to the pleasures of the palate, 
embodying the varied information he collected in his 
poem " Gastrononiia" — the standard authority on 
points of taste, among the epicures of Athens. 
Lady Morgan, in like manner, profited by her visits 
to foreign climes, to bring home the best culinary 
receipts, copied in the original languages, in a book 
specially devoted to the purpose — which volume (far 
more interesting than the Sybelline) she used every 
day to consult, aoing into English for that important 



functionary, her cook, such portions of its contents 
as were to be realised for her epicurean guests at 

At the viceregal drawing-rooms of the Marquis and 
Marchioness Wellesley, Lady Morgan frequently 
figured. " Here it was," writes one who participated 
in the Castle festivities, " Here it was that I saw 
Lady Morgan for the first time ; and as I had long 
pictured her to my imagination as a sylphlike person, 
nothing could equal my astonishment when the 
celebrated authoress, in propria persona, stood be- 
fore me. She certainly formed a strange figure in 
the midst of that dazzling scene of beauty and 
splendour. Every female present wore feathers and 
trains ; but Lady Morgan scorned both appendages. 
Hardly more than four feet high, with a spine not 
quite straight, slightly uneven shoulders and eyes, 
Lady Morgan glided about in a close cropped wig, 
bound by a fillet or solid band of gold, her large 
face all animation, and with a witty word for every- 
body. I afterwards saw her in the dress circle at 
the theatre. She was cheered enthusiastically. Her 
dress was different from the former occasion, but not 
less original. A red Celtic cloak, formed exactly on 
the plan of Grainneuille's, fastened by a rich gold 
fibula, or Irish Tara brooch, imparted to her little 
ladyship a gorgeous and withal a picturesque ap- 
pearance, which antecedent associations considerably 

Our correspondent speaks of the unevenness of 
Lady Morgan's eyes. Though not perfectly straight, 
however, they were remarkably large, beautifully blue, 
lustrous, and electrical. 

"The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys" an Irish 
novel in four volumes, was published by Colburn, in 
November, 1827, and as Lady Morgan espoused the 



cause of the oppressed people of Ireland with renewed 
ardour in this book, while mercilessly lashing the 
ascendancy party, it may well be supposed that the 
sluices of Tory invective were promptly let loose 
upon her. Although the Jesuits received some 
keen strokes of satire from the pen of Lady Morgan 
in u The O'Briens and the O' Flaherty s" the work may 
be said to have had for its object the Civil Emancipa- 
tion of Irish Catholicism. Never were labours more 
thoroughly disinterested. 

"In again presenting an Irish novel to the 
public/' wrote Lady Morgan, " I hope I am not 
doing a foolish thing : and yet I feel, that as far as 
my own interests are concerned, I am not doing a 
wise one. To live in Ireland, and to write for it, is 
to live and wrile poignard svr gorge ; for there is 
no country where it is less possible to be useful with 
impunity, or where the penalty on patriotism is levied 
w r ith a more tyrannous exaction. Called, however, 
to the ground by the sarcasm of enemies, and by^ 
the counsels of friends, I venture forth once more, 
with something less perhaps of intrepidity, than 
when I ' fleshed my maiden sword' under the banners 
of ' The Wild Irish Girl but in the full force of 
that true female quality, over which time holds no 
jurisdiction — perseverance. 

"I anticipate upon this, as upon similar occasions, 
that I shall be accused of unfeminine presumption in 
f meddling with politics / but while so many of my 
countrywomen ' meddle' with subjects of much 
higher importance : — while missionary misses and 
proselyting peereeses affect to * stand instead of God, 
amongst the children of men/ may not I be per- 
mitted, under the influence of merely human sympa- 
thies, to interest myself for human wrongs ; to preach 
in my w T ay on the ' evil that hath come upon my 



people/ and to ( fight with gentle words, till time* 
brings friends/ in that cause, which made Esther 
eloquent, and Judith brave ? Tor love of country is 
of no sex. It was by female patriotism that the 
Jews attacked their tyrants, and ' broke down their 
stateliness by the hands of a woman / and who 
(said their enemies,) ' would despise a nation which 
had amongst them such women V " 

In reviving a paragraph from this long forgotten 
Preface we are enabled to protect Lady Morgan's 
memory from an imputation that has often been 
cast upon it. We shall say nothing of the cavils of 
sundry ephemeral critics, but there is one statement 
in a work of standard authority which certainly 
demands a protest. Speaking of Lady Morgan's 
Irish novels, Chambers'' " Cyclopedia of English 
Literature/' (v. ii. 581) says: "One complaint 
against these Irish sketches was their personality, 
the authoress indicating that some of her portraits at the 
Viceregal Court, and these moving in the 1 best 
society' of Dublin, were intended for well knowu 
characters." But Lady Morgan, it seems, went out 
of her way to declare the contrary and to prevent 
the possibility of misconception. u The personages 
introduced on the scene," she observes in her 
Preface to 'The O'Briens and the O'Elahertys/ " are 
those which belong to the times described. They 
are alike necessary to the vraisemblance of the story, 
and to the fidelity of the portrait : and ' I beseech, 
very heartily, at my desire, my requests, and my 
petitions/ the zealots of party spirit, and the purvey- 
ors of private scandal, to refrain from the application 
of my characters to their own purposes ; and from 
the fabrication of false ' keys/ by which their petty 
larceny has heretofore attempted to rob me of the 
little merit of that ' fearlessness' with which I have 


held the mirror up to nature, without subterfuge and 
without evasion. May I be permitted here to ob- 
serve, that with the exception of those public charac- 
ters, whose delineation was almost a plagiarism, and 
whose peculiarities arose out of the political state of 
Ireland, and were necessary to the display of its 
story, I have drawn none but such as represent a 
class, or identify a genus. Even my Ladies Llarn- 
beris and Dunore were illustrations, not individuals. 
They were intended to represent the spoiled children 
of high society in all ages, from the charming Duchess 
de Maine, with her inimitable il n'y a que moi qui ai 
toujours raison, to the modern mistresses of supreme 
bon ton, — all alike the creatures of circumstances 
the most unfavourable to moral consistency. However, 
I may have fallen a main basse on popes and poten- 
tates, — taken the field against Austria, to ' hang a 
calf's skin on those recreant limbs/ and put forth my 
protocol against the Holy Alliance, 1 have held 
private life sacred, and have religiously abstained 
from bringing forward a single anecdote or circum- 
stance incidental to the life of any private individual. 
The only ' key/ therefore, that I acknowledge, is 
that which is to be found in the great repository of 
human nature. Au reste, I grieve, that in self-de- 
fence, I must wound the self-love of those c walking 
ladies and gentlemen/ who affect to tremble lest 
'Lady Morgan should put them into her book/ — 
by dropping into their 'unwilling ears' the secret 
that tout bois n'est pas bon d faire Mercure. 
Like Macbeth, 'I cannot strike at wretched kernes / 
and not even for the benefit of a puffing * key' would 
I transfer to ' my book' the obscure insignificance and 
flippant pretension that bore and worry me in society. 
I also take the opportunity of averting the wrath of 
half the fair bureaucratie of Ireland, roused by my 



palpable hit at a certain red velvet gown, in Florence 
McCarthy (for of the genuine aristocracy of rank or wit, 
I have no cause to complain,) by informing those whom 
it may concern, that the said red velvet gown belonged 
to a person, with whom I had every right to take every 
liberty — even to the libellous extent of c putting 
her into my book/ when, where, and how I pleased, — 
that is, to myself." 

"The O'Briens and the O'Flahertys," although 
professedly a fiction, was really a work of some his- 
torical importance, and may be safely consulted in 
many of the details by statistic or historic writers. 
We learn, for instance, from Moore's Diary (vii. 192) 
that General Corbet assured Moore that the account 
of his escape from Kilmainham, as given by Lady 
Morgan in this novel, was remarkably accurate in 
the leading particulars. The foot notes contained 
many rich, and but little known morceaux of Irish 
history. There are some tastes which the style of 
the work may not please, but with its political aim 
no critic, however cavilling, could well quarrel. " The 
O'Briens and the 0' Flaherty s," contains, we fear, 
a few coarse expressions; and in common with its 
predecessors, exhibits a somewhat inconsistent love 
for republicanism and aristocracy. 

Lady Morgan assures us that if she drew a coarse 
picture it was with a view to illustrate happily extinct 
manners, and to shew the great progress which has 
been made in refinement since. The epoch which 
she selected for illustration had been hitherto un- 
touched, and possessed deep interest in a national 
point of view as embracing events which prepared 
the Rebellion and accomplished the Union. An epoch 
of transition between the ancient despotism of brute 
force, and the dawning reign of public opinion, it 
was characterized by the supremacy of an oligarchy, 
in whom the sense of irresponsible power had en- 



gendered a contempt for private morals, as fatal as 
their own political venality. 

" The portraiture of such an epoch/'* she writes, 
"is curious from its evanescence, and consolatory by 
comparison with the present times, — times the most 
fatal to faction, and favourable to the establishment 
of equal rights, which Ireland has yet witnessed. It 
may also serve as a warning to a large and influential 
portion of the public, which has yet to learn, that 
to advocate arbitrary government, is to nourish moral 
disorder. In the ranks of intolerance, are to be 
found many who make the largest pretensions to 
purity of principle, and to propriety of conduct. 
Should any such deign to trace in the following 
pages, a picture of manners, far below the prevalent 
tone of refinement now assumed as the standard of 
good company, it may diminish their confidence in 
their favourite political maxims, to remark, that all 
which has been thus gained for society, has been 
obtained by a progressive abandonment of the system 
they advocate/'' 

The great O novel, as they called it, was not received 
with much favour by the English reviews ; and on 
one severe critique in the '"Literary Gazette M a most 
important event in the annals of modern literature 
hinged. Lady Morgan's new novel having been uo- 
ticed with strong animadversion by that Journal 
(which had for many years previously wielded potent 
influence in the w r orld of letters, and as a weekly 
critical organ enjoyed a thorough monopoly) her 
publisher, Mr. Colburn, took great offence at it, 
and in conjunction with the late James Silk Buck- 
ingham, he started the "Athenaeum." Mr. Orme, 
in a private letter to William Jerdan, the then Editor 
of the " Literary Gazette/'' speaks of this " very 
indiscreet article," and adds : " In confidence allow 



me to state to you, that overtures have been made 
to the house respecting a weekly literary journal by 
one of the first publishing and carrying houses in 
the trade, who, in conjunction with others of equal 
power, have determined to support such a paper, 
being careful that it is conducted with ability, dis- 
cretion, and impartiality." 

Mr. Jerdan can hardly be said to have been in 
a position to judge Lady Morgan's performances with 
a dispassionate and unprejudiced eye. That gentle- 
man was very severely handled by Lady Morgan in 
her "Letter to the Reviewers of Italy." "I confess," 
he w r rites in his 'Autobiography/ " never to have 
admired aught of Lady Morgan but her talents ; and 
I fancy there was no love lost between us ; for I 
remember at one of poor dear Lady Stepney's soirees 
that innocent being caught occasion to introduce 
Lady Morgan and myself formally to each other, 
I had a laugh in my sleeve, and 1 afterwards heard 
through the kind communicativeness of the female 
coterie, that her Ladyship signified her wonder at 
the idea of presenting that odious man to Her !" 

Jerdan's review of "The O'Briens and the O'Fla- 
hertys u was exceedingly sarcastic and condemnatory. 
"Two or three years ago," said the 1 Literary Gazette/ 
"when we happened to dissent from Lady Morgan 
on some literary estimate, she published a replication 
in which she elegantly threatened to ' stir us up with 
a long pole' We have read the ' O'Briens and the 
O'Flahertys/ and we are convinced, by its length, 
that it is the identical pole which was then menaced." 
After cautioning the females of England against 
reading this book, Mr. Jerdan adds : " we grieve 
that such a picture should have come from the pen 
of a woman." "The libel, too, is wrought up with 
congenial spirit." "In all our reading we never 



met with a description which tended so thoroughly 
to lower the feminine character." "Mrs. Behu and 
Mrs. Centlivre, it is true, might be more unguarded ; 
but the gauze veil cannot hide the deformities — and 
Lady Morgan's taste has not been of efficient power 
to filter into cleanliness the original pollution of her 
infected fountain." 

To the simple accident of this caustic attack rpon 
Lady Morgan, the birth of that mighty literary censor, 
the "Athenaeum," may be 3irectly traced. While 
under the incubus of James Silk Buckingham, the 
"Athenaeum" did not make much progress, nor did 
the labours of John Stirling, who succeeded him as 
editor, tend much to stimulate it ; but from the hour 
that this Journal passed into the hands of Wentworth 
Dilke, it became almost by magic a powerful and 
profitable literary engine. It perhaps laboured under 
one disadvantage during the editorial regime of Mr. 
Dilke. Dilke, although an able writer of fragmentary 
papers, never succeeded in writing a book ; and 
authors who received a severe castigation at his hands 
were not slow in retorting that this "peevishness" 
arose from his own failure in authorcraft. " His 
milk of human kindness," said one, "the thunder of 
failure has turned into vinegar." At length, the 
accession of Hepworth Dixon, an author of merit 
and importance, to the censorial throne of the 
"Athenaeum," rescued it irom the vapid taunt of 
which we have spoken. 

Her Ladyship's next lucubration was the "Book 
of the Boudoir," a series of autobiographical sketches, 
and. recollections of her friends. This work displays 
the wonted energy and sparkle of Lady Morgan's 
style. Like all autobiographical performances it had 
the fault of being a little egotistical. A long dia- 
logue with Robert Owen, the famous Utopian Phi- 
lanthropist, is characteristic and interesting. 



Tn 1828,, O'Conncll paid a graceful tribute to the 
national feelings and achievements of Lady Morgan. 
"To Irish female talent and. patriotism we owe 
much/' he said : " There is one name consecrated by 
a generous devotion to the best interests of Ireland — 
a name sacred to the cause of liberty, and of every- 
thing great, virtuous, and patriotic — the name of an 
illustrious female who has suffered unmanly persecu- 
tion for her talented, and chivalrous adherence to her 
native land. Need he say that he alluded to Lady 
Morgan. Her name is received with enthusiasm by 
the people of that country where her writings create 
and perpetuate among the youth of both sexes a pa- 
triotic ardour in the cause of everything that is noble 
and dignified." Considering her great popularity in 
Ireland, it is indeed no wonder that Lady Morgan 
should so long have preferred "Dear Dirty Dublin," 
as she herself called it, to a splendid house in Regent 
Street, which the late Mr. Colburn offered her rent 

Before the year 1828 terminated, Emancipa- 
tion became certain. On the motion of Richard 
Lalor Sheil, the Catholic Association, after en- 
during, under various forms, from 1760, was for- 
mally, finally, and perpetually dissolved. Sir Charles 
Morgan had been a zealous member of this body, un^l 
accompanied by his patriotic wife, assisted at the in- 
teresting ceremony of its dissolution. In her last 
Preface to "The Wild Irish Girl/' Lady Morgan 
speaks of the Catholic Association as u that greatest 
league of genius, patriotism, and courage, that Ire- 
land ever had associated in her cause/" 

The " Quarterly Review," when under the editorial 
management of Mr. Lockhart, noticed, very tren- 
chantly, a growing error in biographical composition. 
It remarked that such a favorable colour was usually 


spread over the picture that its fidelity must be rather 
worse than dubious. Everything unfavorable was 
omitted, " and upon the whole," added the ' Quar- 
terly/ " we feel corroborated in our doubts, whether 
the very best of this species of biography can be con- 
sidered in any other light than a romance of real life 
— a picture of which the principal figure must be 
considerably flattered, and everything else sacrificed 
to its prominence and effect." 

We, at least, have endeavoured to keep clear of the 
error which the great critical organ of England has 
indicated, and while protecting the memory of Lady 
Morgan from the shafts of calumny, we have not 
hesitated to give attention to every honest expression 
of opinion on both sides. No picture is perfect with- 
out lights and shadows. A brilliant portrait deprived 
of shade, would be fit only for the lumber-room. 
Impressed with the truth of this remark, we shall 
make a few transcriptions from the note-book of 
Prince Puckler Moskau, who made a tour through 
England and Ireland in 1828 : — ts I was very eager," 
says the distinguished stranger, "to make the ac- 
quaintance of a woman whom I rate so highly as an 
authoress. I found her, however, very different from 
what I had pictured her to myself. She is a little 
frivolous, lively woman, apparently between thirty 
and forty, neither pretty nor ugly, but by no means 
disposed to resign all claims to the former, and with 
really fine and expressive eyes. She has no idea of 
mauvaise honte, or embarrassment ; her manners af- 
fect the aisance and levity of the fashionable world, 
which, however, do not sit calmly or naturally upon 
her. She has the English weakness, that of talking 
incessantly of fashionable acquaintances, and trying 
to pass for very recherchee to a degree, quite unworthy 
of a woman of such distinguished talents." 



The German Prince adds, that Lady Morgan in 
conversation was often very biting and sarcastic, of 
which there cannot be, indeed, the slightest doubt. 

John Wilson Croker, ever on the watch to give a 
cut to Lady Morgan, observed, in reviewing 
the Prince's s book, that "She was an established 
authoress six-and-twenty years ago, and that if, ac- 
cording to the Prince's calculation, she was then 
only eight or nine years of age, she was such a juvenile 
prodigy, as w r ould be quite as worthy to fill a shew 
waggon at Bartholomew Fair, as her ladyship's name- 
sake, who was born with double joints, and could 
lift a sack of corn with her teeth when she was only- 
six years old/' Lady Morgan, on a closer* acquain- 
tance, would seem to have improved in the estima- 
tion of Prince Puckler, for in the Diary of a subse- 
quent day, he tells us, "I spent a very pleasant 
evening to-day at Lady Morgan's. The company 
was small but amusing, and enlivened by the presence 
of two very pretty friends of our hostess who sang 
in the best Italian style, [the Misses Clarke]. I 
talked a great deal with Lady Morgan on various 
subjects, and she has talent and feeling enough 
always to excite a lively interest in her conversation. 
On the whole, I think I did not say enough in her 
favour in my former letter. The conversation fell 
upon her works, and she asked me how I liked her 
' Salvator Rosa.' c I have not read it,' replied I, 
' because I liked your fictions so much, that I did 
not choose to read anything historical, from the pen 
of the most imaginative of romance writers.' ' O, 
that is only a romance/ said she, 9 you may read it 
without any qualm of conscience. Ah/ said she, 
' believe me, it is only ennui that sets my pen in 
motion ; our destiny in this world is such a 
wretched one, that I try to forget it in writing.' " 


In 1825, the Marquis of Anglesey declared in the 
House of Lords, that the clamours of the Catholic 
Association ought to be met, not by concession, 
but my powder and ball; and in a iurious speech 
which did him little credit, he expressed his willing- 
ness to charge the disaffected Irish at the head of 
his hussars. To this speech he owed his nomination 
to the Viceroy alty of Ireland, by the Administration 
of 1828. But the Marquis had no sooner arrived in 
Ireland, than he saw the necessity for Catholic Eman- 
cipation, and for a letter which he addressed to 
Primate Curtis, urging the Catholics not to abate one 
doit in their agitation, the Marquis was recalled, 
from the moment that his views assumed a liberal 
complexion, the Tory press began to vilify him as 
fluently as it had previously belauded liim with 
fulsome panegyric ; and not content with assailing 
his public character, they professed to have discovered 
that the Marchioness of Anglesey had been indis- 
creetly conducted in private some thirty or forty 
years before. In u Blackwood" of the day, then a 
rampant Tory organ, it is mentioned in an article 
headed "Ireland in 1829," that Lady Morgan 
" glittered and fluttered the gayest among the gay in 
Lady Anglesey's Court, and was positively sentimen- 
tal m declaiming against the prudery and hypocrisy 
of those who refused to follow her example." 

A more brilliant Court had not been held in Dublin 
Castle since the Richmond regime. The accomplished 
family of Lord Anglesey possessed many rivetting 
attractions. The Marquis, himself a venerable relic 
of Waterloo, was an object of no ordinary interest, 
'lhe grace and beauty of his three youngest daughters 
excited general admiration. Lady Morgan wrote 
the following impromptu upon them which is now 
published for the first time. 



Of old Olympus' Court grown weary, 
Bored with dowdy Gods and Goddesses, 

Where all was grand, and dull and dreary, 
Big wigs — brocades, and stiff-laced boddices. 

It chanced, the Graces on a day 
Resolved a trip to earth they'd try, 

And just for fun — once in a way — 
To cut their own eternal sky. 

But where to wing their brilliant flight 
They sat for half an age debating, 

When on their doubts to throw a light, 
Enter, the Aide-de-Camp in waiting. 

Momus, the merriest God in heaven, 
If not the sagest — said in short — 

" W T ere I from old Olympus driven 
I'd choose, i'faith ! the Irish Court. 

u For tho' there's dignified urbanity, 
Supreme bon-ton, and State in plenty: 

Still, all so smacks of sweet humanity, 

I'd choose that Court — aye out of twenty." 

" But how present ourselves, dear Momus ? 

A Court, is still a Court, we trow, 
Were it as free as that of Comus 

One must go label'd there you know." 

" LabeVd! I like that ! shew your faces, 

Of a reception there you're sure, 
Besides, I know against the Graces 

L'estrange will never shut the door." 

" Still we must have a name — 'tis clear." 

" A name ! /'// give you one at once, 
Take that which Erin holds most dear f 

Say you're* The Pagets ' — for the nonce." 

Away they flew — the God had reason, 

The Graces had a grand succes, 
Passed for the Pagets for a season, 

Then back to heaven re-winged their way. 



The signal success which had attended the pub- 
lication of " France," induced Sir Charles and Lady 
Morgan early in 1829, to pay a second visit to that 
great country, and to write another book upon it. 
The vast and exciting changes which had gathered 
in the interval around the destiny of France, tempted 
to action the graphic and speculative pen of Lady 

This second book on an old theme appeared in 
June, 1830, and at once became an authority. It 
was dedicated to Lafayette, "by his friend and servant, 
the author." The work chiefly comprised a picture 
of the state of society in France — a condition in part 
the result of Lafayette's own great example, and 
national influence. 

u Having left Ireland," writes Lady Morgan, "in 
the dark moment which preceded the bright rising 
of her great political day, — after lingering there, till 
hope delayed had made the heart sick, — we went 
abroad in search of sensations of a more gracious 
nature than those presented by the condition of so- 
ciety at home. It matters not whether any pre- 
conceived intentions of authorship influenced the 
journey ; a second work on France can be alone 
justified, by the novelty of its matter, or by the 
merit of its execution. It may serve, however, as 
an excuse, and an authentication of the attempt, that 
I was called to the task by some of the most in- 
fluential organs of public opinion, in that great 
country. They relied upon my impartiality ; (for I 
had proved it at the expense of proscription abroad, 
and persecution at home) and, desiring only to be 
represented as they are, they deemed even my 
humble talents not wholly inadequate to an en- 
terprise whose first requisite was the honesty that 
tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the 



truth. This I have done to the full extent of my 
own convictions, and to the utmost limit of the sphere 
of my observation : I answer for no more." 

On Lady Morgan's return to Dublin, she at once 
resumed those brilliant, gay, and hospitable evening 
receptions, which during her absence, had been so 
sadly missed. On August 27, 1830, Moore, as men- 
tioned in his Diary, dined at Lady Morgan's. Cur- 
ran and Sheil, North and Edward Moore, with Lady 
Clarke, and her daughters, were present. Lady 
Morgan's fund of anecdote and drollery was, as usual, 
inexhaustible. As a specimen, Moore jots down, 
"Lady Morgan's story of her telling Lady Cork, 
on the morning of one of her assemblies, that she 
had just seen Sir A. Carlisle, who had been directing 
and preserving the little female dwarf, Crachami. 
' Would it do for a Lion for to-night?' asked Lady 
Cork. ' Why, I think hardly.' f But surely it would 
if it's in spirits.' Their posting off to Sir A. Carlisle's, 
and Lady C. asking the servant for the little child. 
'There's no child here, ma'am.' ' But I mean the 
child in the bottle.' c Oh ! this is not the place 
where we bottle the children — that's at master's work- 
shop.' In talking of Irish pronunciation, Lord Gort 
saying in court, when some one was called forth, 
* He's in jeel.' A lady, in describing the situation 
of her house, * We've the bee in our rare.' " 

Moore's Memoirs of Lord Byron were published 
about this time. It may be remembered that the 
noble bard, in one of his letters, praised Lady Mor- 
gan's " Italy." The following communication ad- 
dressed to the Irish journalist Staunton, speaks for 
itself: — 


Dear Sir — The enclosed has just been sent to me 
s 2 



extracted from Byron's Life by a dear friend of his. 
I should be obliged by your giving it with the other 
extracts in your paper. I know it requires no small 
share of courage, moral and physical, to quote a 
single line in favour of one marked out in this 
wretched country by proscription, by that party to 
whose cause her life, and all its best prospects have 
been sacrificed. I beg, therefore, if you have any 
apprehension on the subject that you will return the 
enclosed. I am, Dear Sir, &c, 

Sydney Morgan. 

The seal on this letter displays the Irish harp with 
other national and characteristic devices. The extract 
to which she alludes may be found, ante, p. 212. 

On the accession of the Grey Ministry to power, 
with King William the Fourth, November 22nd, 
1830, they conferred, among other minor but just 
and judicious acts of patronage, a pension of £300 
on Lady Morgan, professedly "in acknowledgment 
of the services rendered by her to the world of letters," 
but in reality as a just compensation for the sacrifices 
she had made to liberal principles, as well as for the 
uninterrupted stream of slander which John Wilson 
Croker and his Tory colleagues had long brought 
to play upon her reputation. This act of Lord 
Grey was not only a graceful one, but may be said 
to have marked an epoch in the History of Letters. 
No pension had been assigned to a female writer 
until Lord Grey performed this kind office for Lady 
Morgan, and Sir Robert Peel had offered a similar 
compliment to Mrs. Somerville, an authoress who, 
we need hardly remind the reader, expounded La 
Place to the English scientific student as Madame 
de Chatelet had expounded Newton to the French. 
The Grey Ministry did more. Sir Charles Morgan 



was appointed one of the Commissioners of Irish 
Fisheries : and the reports on this subject, of which 
several appeared from his pen, are remarkable for 
their perspicuity and cleverness. 

We are enabled to state on the most conclusive 
authority that the annuity presented to Lady Morgan 
was alike unasked and unexpected. The veteran au- 
thoress received the boon gratefully. "Due honour/' 
she said, u to the men who took the initiative in direct- 
ing the spiritual nature of woman to intellectual pursuit 
by the encouragement of public distinction— who 
thus fostered those mental faculties by which the 
humanity of either sex is best improved and for- 
warded, and by which the greatest scheme of the 
creation — motherhood — can alone be brought to its 
ultimate perfection. 93 And referring to the only in- 
firmity of age which tormented her, she said, " Even 
blindness is arrested in its dark course by the repose 
permitted to eyes which have worked out an humble 
but laborious vocation, ordained alike by nature and 

Soon after the Revolution in Belgium, Lady Mor- 
gan made a tour through that country, and embodied 
in a new novel the result of her observation, as well 
as many exciting incidents of the recent Revolution 
in the Netherlands. This work was published under 
the title of "The Princess/' Although the scene of 
the story was laid far away from " the land of the 
Pats and Potaytees/' several racy Irish characters, 
including Laurence Pegan, and Sir Ignatius 
Dogherty, trod the stage of this highly dramatic 
picture. Of this book, viewed morally, it may be 
said that the aim is faithful to the great object of 
Lady Morgan's life. 

We once heard an eminent author inveigh against 
a brother scribe who had trod in a similar walk of 


literature. u Hang the fellow," he said, u years ago 
I took my stand on that field into which he has now 
intruded. I am sure I have toiled enough to make 
it my own. Physicians never interfere with each 
other's patients, and the same feeling of etiquette 
ou^ht to guide the conduct of authors. Why didn't 
the fellow kill a Hessian for himself? What busi- 
ness has he making love to my wife?" From this 
feeling of jealousy, so usual among authors, Lady 
Morgan was strikingly exempt. Lady Morgan's 
mantle may be said to have fallen to the gifted 
Irish authoress, Mrs. S. C. Hall :* and it is a re- 
markable fact that when this amiable lady first came 
before the public, Sir Charles and Lady Morgan, who 
then had the almost entire editorial control of a very 
influential magazine, did their best to encourage and 
applaud her. " They were ever ready to foster young 
talent" — writes Mrs. Hall, u and we call to mind, 
with gratitude, her generous criticism on the works 
of an author, whom a less generous nature would 
have noted as poaching on what she might have con- 
sidered her own Irish preserve." 

The late D. 0. Maddyn considered Lever to be an 
imitator of Lady Morgan. So far from feeling 
any professional jealousy, Lady Morgan most cor- 
dially fanned the flame of Lever's genius and ambi- 
tion* In her last Preface to 'The Wild Irish Girl/ 
she pronounces the " true Irish humour of Mr. 
Lever to be as racy as it is genuine." Banim, Grif- 
fin, Crofton Croker, Grattan, and Maxwell, also re- 
ceived her cordial eulogy. " I would exchange any 
one of my Paddies with Mr. Carleton for his Paddy- 
go-Easy," she writes, u and the exquisite literary 
historical essays of Davis, who was intensely national, 

* When Mrs. Hall read this passage she exclaimed, M No ! her 
mantle must be her shroud." 



without ceasing to be universal, and combined all 
that is brightest in true Irish genius. He had a 
southern imagination, and northern judgment, but he 
died before he came to his fame/' Of Miss Edge- 
worth her great literary rival and contemporary, 
Lady Morgan refers as the author of some u useful, 
admirable, and most humourous" works. There 
never was a writer less free from literary jealousy 
than Lady Morgan. 

In every movement, tending to national ameliora- 
tion, Lady Morgan participated with almost mascu- 
line spirit and activity. At the meelings held at 
this period in Dublin, with a view to promote Irish 
manufacture, we find her name constantly appearing. 
Probably the best speeches delivered were those by 
A. Carew O'Dwyer Esq., then in the fullness of his 
brilliant parliamentary reputation. Lady Morgan, 
however, was no indiscriminate supporter of Irish 
liberal movements. She always cordially aided the 
Catholic question ; but she never believed in the 
practicability of Repeal. Referring to the condition 
of her humbler fellow-countrymen early in the pre- 
sent century, and sarcastically alluding to certain 
minor demagogues of a later period, who greatly 
exaggerated O'Connell's system of political agitation, 
she said: "their keen sense of suffering was not 
then sharpened by the rhetoric of personal vindic- 
tiveness, nor their strong energies wasted on the 
pursuit of an unattainable object." 

Lady Morgan, during the earlier career of the 
u Athenaeum," contributed occasionally to its co- 
lumns. In 1838 appeared a short series of papers 
from her pen, entitled " Historic Sites." The light 
poetical pieces — " Fun and Philosophy" — in the 
"Athenaeum" of the previous year were furnished by 
Lady Clarke. 



In 1839 Lady Morgan changed her home from 
Kildare Street, Dublin, to William Street, Hyde 
Park, London ; but this change in no degree 
changed the veteran authoress's habits. Here, as 
in Ireland, her evening conversazioni continued 
uninterrupted. The brightest and newest literary 
talent, with the soundest liberal opinion, flourished 
around her throne. " There is many a wit," says 
Charles Mackay, " statesman, scholar, and man of 
science, who would as soon omit to answer the 
muster call of one of Lady Morgan's pleasant re- 
unions, as in the good old days of French society, 
Voltaires, and La Kochefoucaults would have thought 
of deserting the ruelle of the Hotel de llambouillet 
or the Carnevalet." Lady Morgan's panegyrist 
might have added, u legal magnate" to his sketch of 
the class of company who so long frequented her 
gay boudoir, Lord Campbell being an invariable 

For leaving Ireland after she had received a pension 
for her patriotism, Lady Morgan was subjected to 
many a sarcastic remark. But the same taunt might 
as justly be levelled at Curran. Lady Morgan de- 
fended herself by saying, that the political views she 
entertained would in Dublin have confined her to one 
phase of society, while in London she could choose 
from all. In ceasing to reside in Ireland, however, 
she did not cease to be an Irishwoman in heart and 
soul. Her old friends, and her new ones, together 
with numbers of her younger countrymen who, armed 
with letters of introduction, perpetually made descents 
on that* cheerful little boudoir in AVilliam Street, 
were always received with a hearty cead milk failthe. 

Touching the well-used and thread-bare taunt of 
Absenteeism against Lady Morgan, she wittily ob- 
served in August, 1846, that her property in Ireland 



was " personal" not "real," and that the tenant-farm 
of a drawing-room balcony, worked for the raising 
annual crops of mignonette for home-consumption, 
was the only " territorial possession" in Ireland she 
ever enjoyed. " Her removal from that land of un- 
easy sensations to which she owes her birth, was in 
deference to a duty sanctified by God and man, and 
paramount to all others — it was at the desire of one, 
who had left his own great and happy country for 
the adoption of hers, and for the sake of that cause 
to which for more than a quarter of a century he de- 
voted his time, his fortune, his talents, and his prime 
of life ; it was after the battle of Catholic Emancipa- 
tion had been " fought and won," and the great 
league formed for its consummation was broken up, 
and dispersed, that he became desirous to return 'to 
die at home at last," (alas !) and where he placed his 
solitary survivor, she hopes to pass the scanty frag- 
ment of life still reserved to her, without reproach, as 
without the consciousness of deserving it." 




Publication of " Dramatic Scenes," and " Woman and her 
Master." — " The Book without a Name " — Lady Morgan in 
Heidelberg and Baden Baden. — Letters from Sir C. and Lady 
Morgan. — Unpublished Lines by Horace Smith. — Death of Sir 
C. Morgan. — How to rear Young Ladies. — Table talk of Lady 
Morgan. — Death of Lady Clarke. — Republication of Lady Mor- 
gan's early works. — She again befriends the Poor. — Cardinal 
Wiseman. — The Battle of the Chairs. — Salvator Rosa. — Lady 
Morgan lends out her services as Hostess. — Popularity of her 
Boudoir. — She makes her Will.— Impromptu lines by Lady 
Morgan. — Her address to " the Athenaeum/' — More Table 
Talk. — Prostrated by Bronchitis. — Publication of " Passages 
from my Autobiography." — Poetical Address to Lady Morgan's 
Respirator. — Death and Funeral of Lady Morgan. — Westma- 
cott's Monument to her memory. — The Great Moral of Her 

Ireland, as Lady Morgan tells us, was her earliest 
inspiration and her theme, and it would seem that 
from the moment she left its shores, her cacoethes 
scribendi flagged. Our authoress's next performance 
was a work entitled "Dramatic Scenes from Real 
Life/' which Chambers' Cyclopaedia of English Litera- 
ture pronounces " very poor in matter, and affected 
in style/' Tn 1840, however, Lady Morgan brought 
her long train of creative literary efforts to a sin- 
gularly beautiful and effective close by the publication 
of "Woman and her Master." This work had been 
almost entirely written in Ireland. Lady Morgan's 



essentially masculine thought and sense, had long 
evoked the prejudices of certain affected critics who 
would have preferred a more uniformly feminine 
style, and selection of subject : but this grand and 
philosophical history of Woman, in which Lady 
Morgan came forward as the champion and historian 
of her sex, effectually silenced further objection. 

Indeed this book effected, if possible, a strong 
reactionary feeling among the ladies. Some were 
disposed to resent the implied indignity of the title, 
notwithstanding that the same definition of woman- 
kind had been sanctioned by Blackstone, who gravely 
speaks in his Commentaries of " The Baron and His 

In " Woman and her Master," Lady Morgan has 
carefully investigated one of the most important 
branches of social science — the position which woman 
should occupy in the order and progress of society. 
Following up the labours of Bentham, Godwin, and 
Condorcet, Lady Morgan sought, in the records of 
the past, guidance for the future. " She subjected 
the pages of History to a vigorous moral analysis ; 
testing their facts with the skill of a critic, and 
deducing results with the wisdom of a philosopher." 
It is exceedingly probable Lady Morgan would have 
continued to a later era this work, which is in fact a 
History of Woman down to the fall of the .Etonian 
Empire, had not almost an utter deprivation of sight 
soon after obliged the authoress to relinquish her 
labours. Critically viewed, this book can only be 
regarded as a splendid fragment. Since the fall of 
the Roman Empire the condition of woman, by the 
progress of Christianity, and the Institution of 
Chivalry, has undergone greater change than in the 
previous four thousand years ; and it is impossible 
not to experience bitter regret that circumstances did 



not permit Lady Morgan to work out her grand 
project to its full extent. 

The work opens with an eloquent and an argu- 
mentative sketch of the progress of civilization, and 
the gradual supremacy of. mind over brute force. 
This, Lady Morgan declared, was far from being 
complete, especially in the respective conditions and 
relations of the sexes ; for, if the social system is still 
more imperfect as it relates to the "master," it 
remains much worse with his u slave," woman being 
"still a thing of sufferance, and not of rights," as in 
the ignorant infancy of early aggregation when the 
law of the strongest was the only kw acted on. 
"Even now," she asks, "when supremacy has been 
transferred from muscle to mind, has that most 
subtle spirit — that being of most mobile fibre — that 
most sensitive and apprehensive organization — has 
she, whom God placed to be a mate and a help to 
man, at the head of his creation, the foundress of 
nations, the embellisher of races, has she alone been 
left behind, at the very starting-post of civilisation, 
while around her all progresses and improves ? And 
is man still c the Master j J and does he, by a mis- 
directed self-love, still perpetuate her ignorance and 
her dependance, when her emancipation and improve- 
ment are most wanting, as the crowning element of 
his own happiness ? 

" If, in the first era of society, woman was the 
victim of man's physical superiority, she is still, in 
the last, the subject of laws, in the enactment of which 
she has had no voice — amenable to the penalties of a 
code, from which she derives but little protection. 
While man, in his first crude attempts at jurispru- 
dence, has surrounded the sex with restraints and 
disabilities, he has left its natural rights unguarded, 
and its liberty unacknowledged. Merging the very 



existence of woman in his own, lie lias allowed her 
no separate interest, assigned her no independent 
possessions; f for/ says the law — the law of man — 
'the husband is the head of the wife, and- all that she 
has belongs to him/ Even the fruit of her own 
labour is torn from her, unless she is protected by 
the solitary blessedness of a derided but innocent 

The eloquent champion of woman, not content 
with asserting the moral and intellectual equality of 
the sexes, absolutely insisted upon female superiority, 
and among other evidence cited the great case of 
Adam and Eve as a proof of their social equality, and 
the mental pre-eminence of the first Mother, whose 
very name signifies in the Hebrew, Life, while the 
translation of Adam is — Red Earth ! 

In dismissing the subject of " W oman and her 
Master," we may add, as a postscriptum, that the 
"Quarterly Review" at last offered to Lady Morgan 
some honourable atonement by praising her new work 
with a cordial good will. But had not the editorial 
control of the " Review" been in the hands of 
Mr. Lock hart, and not Mr. Croker, at this period, 
another savage onslaught would doubtless have been 
made upon her. By turning to Volume xlvi, 
p. 375, it may be perceived that " Woman and her 
Master" is pronounced to be " a very clever and 
amusing work." There can be no doubt, that 
although not avowed, Sir Charles Morgan contri- 
buted to this voluminous disquisition much of his 
metaphysical and philosophical lore. 

The last joint production of this devoted pair was 
" The Book without a Name but it cannot be 
well regarded as embodying much new mental eiFort, 
being exclusively composed of final gleanings from 
the uortfolios of the writers, and stray papers which 



had previously appeared in the magazines. An ex- 
cellent copperplate portrait of Sir C. Morgan was 
prefixed to this work. 

In the autumn of 1841, Sir Charles and Lady 
Morgan made their last continental tour. A long, 
and hitherto unpublished letter addressed to one of 
Lady Morgan's nieces, affords a faithful record of 
their wanderings on this occasion. The writing is 
extremely illegible, and but too plainly bears evidence 
of the author's rapidly failing sight. The italics in 
the following letter are according to the original. 
Lady Morgan never lost an absurd girlish habit of 
perpetually underlining words already sufficiently 
expressive, and which stand in need of no especial 
emphasis. Two graphic pictures of the Conversa- 
tion-Haus, and La Source at Baden, surmount Lady 
Morgan's letter. 

" Baden Baden, August 22nd, 1841. 

" Well here we are, and this * here' is a sort of 
paradise, half way between heaven and earth, a sort 
of celestial pendant to purgatory, which lies 'tother 
way. We left poor dear Kissingen with regret and 
pleasant souvenirs on Monday 16th at six in the 
morning, after such a levee the day before, with my 
general health much improved, but with the remains 
of my unlucky cold still hanging about me. We 
proceeded per ' lohn kutchee* (job coach) to the 
ancient city of Wurtzburg where we got dinner 
(three o'clock). Oh, such a noble still life piece of 
antiquity ! a monument of the grandeur of the sove- 
reign Bishops of Germany, in their palmy state. The 
corners of the streets are guarded by gigantic statues 
of saints and bishops, and a saint or a Madonna 
holds watch and ward over the fine old sculptured 
portals of its houses ! The palace of the former 



Prince Bishop, surpasses anything I ever saw in 
the same genre. It contains three hundred and 
forty-six rooms, we went through ninety-two ! The 
state rooms vast and splendid, and clean and bright, 
as if inhabited yesterday — the walls sculptured, 
marble or mirrors covered with gold net-work, or 
velvet draped with gold or the finest old tapestry, the 
sofas and beds of the same precious material, many 
of the chairs and tables of massive silver, and then 
the cabinets and candelebra, and the portraits of the 

brave old •* for three centuries back, and all 

this silent, solemn, empty ! occupied only by the 
custode who shewed it to us, and by the sentinels 
who paced along its magnificent halls and galleries; 
the fatigue almost killed me. Wurtzburg now be- 
longs to the King of Bavaria since the treaty of 
Luneville, but he never resides there ! Prom Wurtz- 
burg and Heidelberg, we made a slow up hill journey 
of two days ; our sleeping post would take a volume 
to describe — our coachman (we took our caleche all 
the way) could speak nothing but German, neither 
could any one in the mountain inn, which we did 
not reach till long after dark; such a landlady, so 
jolly and tipsy a frau, and boors drinking a I'ostade 
in the adjoining room, and singing glees in part and 
admirably — the enormous hostess came and sat wdth 
us, putting her elbows on the table, in great de- 
light with us, while I) and Anne lighted a fire 

and made some of our own London chocolate, which 
saved my life, for each of us slept in a box with a 
feather bed over us, and were off before daylight for 
the prettiest village and the nicest inn and breakfast 
to be had in the Duchy of Baden— no words can 
give you an idea .of the beauty, fertility or wanton 

* Word omitted. — Ed. 



plenty of the scenery through which we passed. The 
background, vineyards, orchards, corn fields, every 
species of vegetables of the finest description, and 
images of pastoral prosperity and loveliness; every- 
where the women doing all the most laborious work, 
but all prospering. The valley of the Necker sur- 
passes in beauty anything I ever saw in Italy, and to 
the situation of Heidelberg and its ruined castle, 
nothing I ever read, or saw in pictures did the 
least justice. We arrived to dine there on Wednes- 
day, and stayed Thursday to visit its wondrous castle, 
and to rest my poor weary little frame ; and on Friday 
started after breakfast at six in the morning, for this 
enchanted place, eighteen hours journey, for we did 
not get here till past ten, after all, but losing our 
way and risking being benighted amidst woods and 
heath. At half past six that evening,* Morgan and I 
were seated on an old stump of a tree in front of the 
post house on the cross roads to Eadstadt, Strasbourg 
and Baden, while the horses fed and the servants 
were devouring apples, plums, and walnuts which 
they gathered along the road, for in our journey of 
eight days, the whole way was studded with teeming 
fruit trees. We set up here at the Hotel d'Angle- 
terre, and dined yesterday at its sumptuous table- 
d'hote, such a great change from poor dear little Kis- 
singen— such a multitude of fine men! all in such 
full dress, Princes, Counts, Barons, (and / suppose 
blacklegs) and oh ! such a variety of beards of all 
cuts and colours, such pictures! We found Miss 
Mars (?) (the bride) and her very nice husband Mr. 

£ , seated opposite to us, and there we are all 

in the frontispiece taking coffee, while the band is 

* " Pray tell us what you were all about at that hour and even- 
ing, as we were all talking of you, and wishing to know. 



playing, and the rooms lighting up for a bal pare 
where the Jenkins' want us to go with them, here 

we found them — by the by, I hear Eugenie C 

has made a great hit ! Lord C , a charming 

elderly gentleman so rich ! I must stop as my heart 
beats. -S. M." 

The remainder of the sheet is in the autograph of 
Sir Charles Morgan : 

"Well dear alls, here we are post-tot naufrogia — 
after all our adventures of which I suppose, Sydney 
has given you an account. I wish to heavens we 

had you all with us ' baby' S and all. You 

cannot conceive the beauty of this place ; we have got 
into a little suite of apartments, with a back of wood , 
and a stream whose ' murmurs invite one to fish, 
close under our windows; we literally do not see our 
house, yet we are in the heart of the town, with the 
promenade and assembly-house within half a stone's 
throw, and our table-d'hote nearer ! We are in fact 
in the ' English garden/ which is a regular English 
Park, but more dressed, ornamented, and varied 
than any I know, what, too, is better still, out of 
ear shot of all Tory politics ; I have seen, however, 
'the Sun/ with the account of Lord Morpeth's 
intended dinner, and regret more than I can say, 

not being one amongst them. Pray my dear S 

do whatever is right for me, subscribe, if need be, 
and make some communication of my desire to have 
been present. Had I been in England, 1 would 
have gone to Dublin express. Good God ! that 
Ireland is to be removed from the care of such a 
man to be subjugated to the lash of Stanley. It 
cannot, however, last. The heavens themselves war 
against the Tories ! but through what a sea of misery 



must England navigate, to arrive at anything like 
government ! we can hardly hope to get a letter from 
you here, but pray write if possible by return of 

post, and direct to us aux soins de Mr. B 

Bad Ems, Nassau. He will keep your letter till we 
meet, thus saving at least four days post ; as far as I 
can judge by the papers, the Tories are by no means 
satisfied with their prospects, and I do not wonder 
at it. What are the dissenting parsons to do'? 
will they not help forward the corn question fa- 
mously? There is nothing like fanaticism to beat 
down fanaticism. Truth has no such chance. I 
was glad to see Clarke's name at the meeting : I 
must, however, end my share of this letter, 1 give 
my love to all in George's Street, and accept it 
yourself with my avuncular benediction for the 
young giant. Ever affectionately jours, 

"0. Morgan/' 

Lady Morgan adds in a postscript : 

"The B are still at Ems. As we are going 

down the Rhine this day fortnight, we mean to stop 
a day with them, and I trust, find a letter from you, 
but say nothing against nobody. She never fails to 
enquire about your confinement and baby ! nor to 
send her Jove and felicitations which I always 
forget to tell you. 

" I will write to dear mamma soon, I hope she is 
off for the Jones, and that she will be with us in Sep- 
tember. You never saw such a scene as when I wrote 
my name in the Librairie Publique yesterday — God 
bless you all ! 

" S. Morgan." 

Sir Charles and Lady Morgan returned from their 
pleasant tour with renewed vigour of mind and body. 



Their evening receptions were at once resumed with 
increased sparkle and success. Their guests in- 
cluded nearly every person of hereditary or personal 
distinction. His Imperial Majesty, the present 
Emperor of the French was a constant visitor. 
" His mind/' said Lady Morgan in conversation 
with a friend, u seemed to be always laden heavily, 
and working strongly. He would fall into frequent 
reveries, and I remarked that whenever a knock 
came to the door he always started strangely." 

Until prostrated by the decline of his mental and 
bodily strength, Horace Smith continued to be a 
frequent and delighted guest of Lady Morgan's. 
The following characteristic epistle from Mr. Smith 
to her ladyship has been placed at our disposal. It 
is interesting to trace in its lines the resurrectional 
flashes of that genius which thirty years before, sur- 
prised the public in "The Rejected Addresses." The 
poem is now published for the first time. 

To Lady Morgan. 

dear Lady Morgan, this pain in the organ 
Of sound, that the doctors call Larynx, 
Is a terrible baulk to my walk and my talk, 
While my pen its extremity ne'er inks. 

All this I don't mind, but one pang lurks behind, 
Nay, it sticks in my gizzard and kidney. 
Tho' I know it's not sage, I'm transported with rage, 
'Cause I can't be transported to Sydney ! 

When my daughters come back from your dwelling, alack ! 

What lots of facetiae they can tell us 1 

While I, within clutch of a feast I can't touch, 

Am condemned to the tortures of Tantalus. 

When last you came here, you had illness severe, 
Now / must call in the physician ; 

We would meet, but the more we're disposed (what a bore !) 
The greater's our indisposition. 

t i 



O Morgans and Fate ! do not bother my pate 
With this Fata Morgana probations, 
If ye can't make me well, rob Sir Charles of his spell, 
And his spouse of her rare fascinations. 

Horatio Smith. 

On August 28tli, 1843, Sir Charles Morgan was 
summoned suddenly to Eternity. To the latest 
hour of his life he had continued his liberal and 
philanthropic labours by voice and pen. On the day 
of his funeral the "New Monthly Magazine" for 
September was published ; and with many a sigh, 
and a moistened eye, people recognised in its pages 
an earnest, able, and hearty contribution from Sir 
Charles Morgan's pen, attesting the indomitable per- 
severance with which, to the last gasp of his existence, 
he had toiled in a generous cause. By his family 
and private friends, Sir Charles was beloved with an 
affection which time may mellow, but can never 
obliterate. Several earnest tributes to his worth 
appeared in the journals of the day. One in the 
" Examiner," probably from the pen of Fonblanque, 
we transcribe : "a writer of great ability, an honest 
politician, an amiable and most enlightened man, 
he has claims to be long regretted by a wide circle 
of every class of opinion. While his mind kept 
equal pace with the progress of liberal views, his 
tastes were formed and resolutely fixed in what we 
call the best old school. He was never at a loss for 
the witty or the wise passage from Rabelais or 
Bayle. We turn to his last magazine paper- 
published as we write this — and find it closed with a 
quotation from the latter writer : ' Ne croyez pas que 
je mc vante de n'avoir rien dit que de vrai : je ne 
garanlie que mon intention, et non pas mon ignorance/ 
And truly if anything but the exactest truth ever 



fell from himself, it was ignorance, and not intention 
that betrayed him. The one most rare with him— 
the other most certain, reliable and sound." 

Sir Charles Morgan's death was quite unexpected, 
even by the eminent physicians, Latham and Cham- 
bers, who had been in professional attendance on 
him. He was, to all appearances, recovering from 
an attack of fever, when apoplexy suddenly occurred. 
This domestic bereavement proved a severe blow to 
Lady Morgan. But the condolences and attentions 
of her compatriots — young and old — served in some 
degree to alleviate it. Many were the expressions 
of homage tendered to her who had lived to be a 
classic. " The children and children's children," she 
said, H of my partial readers and earliest friends, are 
now extending the sphere of my social existence 
which death has narrowed, solacing by their sym- 
pathy the unceasing consciousness of losses which 
can never be repaired; and cheering with their 
bright looks of kindness that dreary hearth from 
which all the deeper affections, and profounder as- 
sociations are. now for ever estranged." It must 
have been consolatory to Lady Morgan to reflect 
that it wa3 owing to a perfect congeniality of dis- 
position and taste on her part, and a true recipro- 
cation of all attentions and endearments that Sir 
Charles always enjoyed the happiest of homes. 

To the generality of readers it is hardly necessary 
to say that Sir Charles had no children by Lady 
Morgan. Had she been a mother she would have 
proved a fond and a wise one/ Her principles for 
the education of youth, were sound. In a tete-a-tete 
conversation with Mrs. Hall, on the subject of some 
young ladies who had been suddenly bereft of for- 
tune, Lady Morgan said, with an emphatic wave of 
her dear old green fan, "They do everything that 


is fashionable — imperfectly ; their singing, and draw- 
ing, and dancing, and languages amount to nothing. 
They were educated to marry, and had there been 
time they might have gone off with, and hereafter 
from, husbands. They cannot earn their own salt; 
they do not even know how to dress themselves. I 
desire to give every girl, no matter her rank, a trade 
— a profession if the word pleases you better ; culti- 
vate what is necessary in the position she is born to ; 
cultivate all things in moderation, but one thing to 
perfection, no matter what it is, for which she has 
a talent — drawing, music, embroidery, housekeeping 
even ; give her a staff to lay hold of, let her feel 
' this will carry me through life without dependence/ 
I was independent at fourteen, and never went in 

After such a sound bit of teaching, she would, if 
a superfine lady was announced, tack round to her 
small vanities, ply her fan after a new fashion, and 
exclaim with such droll pretty affectation, " Why 
were not you here last night ? I had two Dukes, the 

beautiful Mrs. P (never mind, the scandal is 

nearly worn out) the young countess who is so like 
the lady in Comus — the Indian Prince, who dresses 
the corner of a room so superbly, and is everything 
we could desire except fragrant. I am a liberal, but 
really siuce the Reform Bill, have ceased to count 
M.P's. as gentlemen, still they are M.P's., I had 
seven — certainly of the best men — en route to 
the Division. I told you two dukes and one duchess ; 
but the delight was a new and handsome American, 
a member of Congress — I dare say he exchanged his 
Bible for a Peerage, the moment he landed at Liver- 
pool ! You should have seen his ecstacy when 
presented to a duchess, and how he luxuriated be- 
neath the shadow of the strawberry leaves." 



On April 24th, 1845, Lady Morgan was deprived 
by death of her only sister, Lady Clarke. To this 
amiable and accomplished woman she had long been 
ardently attached by a double link of domestic love. 
As the senior of Olivia Clarke by ten years, Lady 
Morgan regarded her from infancy with feelings of 
mingled maternal fondness and sisterly affection. 
Little Olivia was but two years old when Mrs. Owen- 
son died; and the elder sister was called upon to 
take a mother's place at an age when the joyous 
office of a playmate w r ould have sat far more naturally 
upon her. With what sad feelings Lady Morgan 
heard of her sister's death may be gathered, when 
we know that their love grew with their years, and 
that, so far back as 1801 it had reached a point of 
intense warmth. In Sydney Owenson's first book 
—the poems elsewhere noticed— we find an address 
to Olivia which records conclusive evidence on the 
subject. The authoress, having mentioned the in- 
teresting fact that she had been from childhood 
writing, and ere she "well could write, inditing, 11 
exclaims : 

" What ! and no lines to thee addrest, 
Thou longest known, and loved the best, 

Not one to thee : 
For whom I've oft wept, sighed, and simTd 
My sister, mother, friend and child, 

Thou all to me ! 

Alas ! I ne'er could learn the art 

To write from head and not from heart. 

Associate of my infant plays. 
Companion of my happiest days, 
With whom I ran youth's frolic maze : 

With whom I sung 
My first untutor'd artless lay, 
And on whose sportive accents gay, 

I fondly hung ! 


Sweet friend, too, of my riper years, 
Who kindly shares my hopes, my fears, 
My joys, my sorrows, smiles, and tears, 

My nights — my days : 
With whom I share one heart, one mind, 
My more thar^ kin, and more than kind 

How sing thy praise ? 

* * * * 

Still those gay visions fancy brought, 
Were with thy loved idea fraught, 
With you to live I fondly thought 

With you to die : 
Nor e'en with life to part with you, 
For in my heavens Utopia too, 

I placed you high \" 

Charles Wen tworthDilke in recording Lady Clarke's 
death, said : " No person was better fitted to grace 
and adorn society; light-hearted, brilliant, full to 
overflowing with animal spirits she was sure to be 
welcomed there, yet the wife and the mother was 
content to shine in a narrower sphere, to do the 
drudging duties of life, and to gladden with her 
good spirits her own family and fireside. In a sen- 
tence, she was a high-spirited and true-hearted 
woman. The last time that we had the pleasure 
to be in her company, we formed part of a circle 
whom she entertained with snatches of old Irish 
songs, and others, more familiar, out of the ( Beggar's 
Opera/ Little did we then think that one so 
cheerful, and so full of life was suffering, as we 
now know, from a disease which was so soon to 
terminate fatally." Lady Clarke had reached the 
age of sixty. She is interred at Irishtown, near 
Dublin, in the same grave with Robert Owen son. 

Lady Morgan bore up against her domestic be- 
reavements with that vigorous philosophy which 
through life had been a speciality with her. If a 
circumstance occurred to annoy her, she endeavoured 



'to forget it in the excitement of frolic. Prom this 
period until an evening or two before her death, 
she entertained, at reception or ball, an uninterrupted 
succession of distinguished and pleasant guests. On 
November 28th, 1846 she writes: " My dear Mr. 

C 1 am in despair. If it is possible, pray come 

and dine with me at six o'clock. You will make a 
fourth with three dancers. One of her Majesty's 
Maids of Honour, and Lady Laura Tollrnasche," &c. 
"Do, darling/' she would sometimes say to Mr. 
Hepworth Dixon, " do, darling, come and dine with 
me to-day, and you shall have a countessall to yourself/' 
Mr. Jeatferson, in his Memoirs of the Novelists, 
says : " Her house is frequented by the most distin- 
guished men of letters and leading personages in the 
world of fashion, and it is rare for a stranger of any 
note to visit our shores and quit them without 
having sought an introduction to the author of 
' Woman and her Master/ " 

In 1846, Mr. Colburn made a liberal offer to 
Lady Morgan for liberty to republish her early works 
in a cheap and popular form. Referring to this 
circumstance, the authoress said, " I have lived long 
enough to be once more the proprietor of some of my 
earliest productions, and thus as it were to become my 
own posterity— the only posterity, haply, I may ever 

To the new edition of " The Wild Irish Girl," 
Lady Morgan prefixed some new and interesting 
introductory remarks. 

"A first book, like a first love, is generally a thing 
to be alittle ashamed of, a juvenile indiscretion, (more 
pleasant in its passage than in its retrospect) : and in 
the attempt of the Editor of the present edition of ' The 
Wild Irish Girl* to correct its incorrigible errors of 
style, the author of ' Woman and her Master' has often 



the same doubt of personal identity, which the ill-* 
used mistress of the wicked " little dog Stout," ex- 
pressed in the well-known stanza of, 

" 1 Oh, quoth the little woman, sure this be none of 1/ 

u The doubt of identity, however, applies only to the 
overcharged style, and exaggerated and very youthful 
opinions, scattered over the work of one who loved 
Ireland not always 1 wisely/ and sometimes, perhaps, 
'too well-/ for Ireland, like a fair, frail woman, 
more flattered than served, has suffered as much 
from the homage of her admirers as from the 
calumnies of her foes. 

u Still the spirit and the sympathy, and above all 
the earnestness of purpose and desire to serve, which 
urged this first instalment of a very small capital of 
talent, paid into the account of her country's wrongs, 
remain undiminished." 

Lady Morgan had devoted a considerable portion of 
leisure, during this year to the task of revising 
her st Wild Irish Girl," with a view to republication 
in one volume. Parental fondness cannot be said to 
have blinded her to its defects, for she considered 
and avowed that the book contained many " incor- 
rigible" errors of style. But Lady Morgan did less 
than justice to her " Wild Irish Girl." In a note to 
a very beautiful local description she writes, " 'young 
ladies' castles € always frown/ — the cross things." 
Byron, however, has stamped the phrase with the 
high authority of his sanction. One cannot forget 
the stately stanza commencing 

* 4 The castled crag of Drachenfels 
Frowns o'er the wide and winding Rhine." 

During the autumn of 1850, we find Lady Morgan 
rusticating at Shirenewton, Rectory near Chepstow, 



Monmouthshire, the residence of lier niece's husband 
the Ivev. In wood Jones. As Lady Morgan was 
never indifferent to the claims and wants of her 
toiling and suffering fellow-creatures, she, observing 
that they laboured under great local difficulty in 
procuring water during that sultry season, originated 
a plan for the erection of a public fountain, and 
headed the subscription list by a generous draught 
from her own purse. The good project succeeded, 
and a most convenient fountain now stands in the 
village bearing a record of her benevolence. There 
can be little doubt that had any other person pro- 
posed the plan it would have been received with 
apathy, and soon have fallen into abeyance. To 
Lady Morgan's tact, the present health, and comfort 
of the people of Shirenewton, is entirely owing. 
A copy of her appeal to the wealthier inhabitants is 
before us. 

" Of all the wants/' she writes " incidental to man- 
kind there is none more pressing than the want of water 
— of pure, good, wholesome water— food cannot 
be prepared without it, and through the medium of 
food it becomes part of our blood, and acts upon our 
bodies. Corrupt and bad water is a slow poison — 
it is full of living matter, which breeds disease, and 
is peculiarly hurtful to women and children, who, it 
is grievous to say, are generally the only water 
drinkers in a family. 

" Water is more especially needful for all the pur- 
poses of cleanliness, on which health, comfort, order, 
and propriety depend ; a free use of it is the best 
preventative against vermin, and to the neglect of 
its use, fever, cholera and scrofula are owing. In 
ancient times, plague and pestilence were the result 
of dirt and slovenliness, arising out of want of 
water, where springs were few and distant. The 


chief impediments to obtaining water by the poor 
and the industrious are the remoteness of natural 
springs, and the want of means for procuring rain 
water. The men of country villages are engaged in 
daily labour for the support of their families — the 
women who are able to work, are occupied in 
earning something abroad, if they can, or attending 
to their infants or families, if at home — the labour, 
therefore, of drawing w T ater from distant wells, falls 
upon either the very young or the very old, and 
almost always upon the females. 

" A little girl despatched for water with a heavy 
earthen pitcher of some gallons may often be seen 
toiling up our hills and over a rough road, some- 
times poising her pitcher on her head — sometimes 
resting it on her hip, distorted out of its socket to 
support the weight so much beyond her strength, 
and thus, most probably, laying the foundation of 
two dreadful diseases, decrepitude and water on the 
brain. Another equally piteous sight is the aged 
woman with her two heavy cans of water, balancing 
each other, as she toils along, frequently obliged to 
stop by the way, in her heavy exhaustion — and when 
these small quantities of the great element of life 
and health have been obtained for general use, how 
inadequate are they for the daily purposes of life ! 
to cleanse the human body, to wash the clothes and 
household furniture, and, last of all, and most 
essential, to dress the food, and afford drink to the 
thirsty and exhausted — the springs from which they 
are brought, though pure in themselves, are too often 
polluted by all sorts of filthy deposits, animal and 
vegetable, and the father of the family is thereby 
prevented, perhaps after a long day's work, from 
quenching his thirst and refreshing his strength by 
the most natural, but now uninviting element, and 



turns to the more exciting refreshment supplied at 
the neighbouring ale-house, at a price that would 
procure his family a comfortable meal — and thus he 
acquires habits of inebriety, unfitting him for the 
social duties of life, and rendering him too often 
careless of his own and reckless of the lives of 

"To forward a moral reformation as well as provide 
for a natural want — It is proposed : 

" To turn a spring, which now flows unprofitably 
under the soil we tread on, to the account of health, 
cleanliness, and utility — to erect an iron pump in 
the centre of the village of Shirenewton — and to 
defray the expense by a general subscription of all 
the householders in the immediate neighbourhood of 
the spot, it being distinctly understood that any, who 
decline to subscribe to so necessary a work, will not 
be entitled to the benefit of it." 

It gratified Lady Morgan to find that she was not 
altogether forgotten by her own country. Visits, 
presents, and letters from Ireland, were always re- 
ceived by her with a hearty cead mille a failthe. On 
her return to London, she found a presentation copy 
of the "Macaria Excidiuin," published by the 
Celtic Society, and immensely enriched by the edi- 
torial labours of John Cornelius O'Callaghan. ( )ne 
of the few copies at his disposal, he presented to 
Lady Morgan, who, on November 13th, 1850, thus 
acknowledged it, although her sight was now almost 
utterly gone. ts Lady Morgan begs to return Mr. 
O'Callaghan her best thanks for the very interesting 
work he has so ably edited. Her absence from 
London for the last four months prevented her mak- 
ing an earlier acknowledgment. She is sure she will 
derive much pleasure and instruction from a work so 
peculiarly adapted to her own taste, as she also 



fancies herself ' the laste taste in life' of an Irish 

Notwithstanding the skill and attention of the 
best ophthalmists of London, Lady Morgan's sight 
far from improved, and for a considerable time she did 
not put pen to paper; at last, a flash of the old 
genius attracted public attention. After long repose 
Lady Morgan donned her glittering armour, and 
entered the lists of controversy with no less a per- 
sonage than Cardinal Wiseman. The matter is 
curious not only in a literary point of view, but as 
shewing the unquenched spirit, and undiminished 
powers of argument of the all but blind octo- 
genarian. This being the last act of Lady Morgan's 
literary life, we shall examine, at some length, the 
various points of the controversy. 

In her great work on Italy, Lady Morgan pro- 
fessed to describe, among other relics, the Chair of 
St. Peter at Rome. Most people know that it has 
remained for a considerable period concealed within a 
shrine. Lady Morgan reported that the u sacrilegious 
curiosity" of the French, removed its superb casket, 
and having explored the relic, traced upon its moul- 
dering surface an Arabic inscription declaring that 
" there is but one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet." 
Lady Morgan advanced it as her opinion, that this 
chair had been among the spoils of the Crusades 
offered to the Church, " at a time when a taste for 
antiquarian lore, and the deciphering of inscriptions 
were not yet in fashion. The story," she added, 
" has been since hushed up, the chair replaced, and 
none but the unhallowed remember the fact, and 
none but the audacious repeat it." 

Cardinal Wiseman, during his residence at Rome, 
heard of this startling charge, and at once took its 
confutation in hand. As a zealous Catholic eccle- 



siastic, he felt naturally indignant that the relic so 
long venerated in the Vatican Basilic, as St. Peter's 
Chair, should be pronounced to be a mere Moham- 
medan monument, and that the clergy having dis- 
covered this, should have continued to deceive the 
people, by directing their respect towards an object 
which they knew to be not only spurious, but abso- 
lutely bearing an inscription denying the truth of 
Christianity. Cardinal Wiseman declared that he 
could easily produce the attestation of those who 
had been in the service of St. Peter's Church, since a 
period antecedent to the Prench Revolution, to the 
fact that the seals of the relic had never been 
violated ; but he forebore to do so, as it might be 
said that the men who could deceive the public in 
the impious manner alleged, would have little scruple 
in giving any testimony necessary to countenance the 
cheat. Cardinal Wiseman argued, therefore, on other 
grounds. He shewed, with great learning, that this 
relic existed long before the Crusades, or even 
Mahomet himself. From historical, the Cardinal ap- 
pealed to circumstantial evidence. "No one," he 
said, " doubts the identity of the coronation chair of 
our kings of England with that of Edward the Con- 
fessor, simply from the fact that it has ever been pre- 
served in Westminster Abbey for that purpose. The 
same tradition exists in favour of St. Peter's Chair." 
Cardinal Wiseman then proceeded to account for the 
mistake into which Lady Morgan had been led. He 
explained that in the Church of St. Peter at Venice, 
has long been preserved a stone chair called by the 
populace " The Chair of St. Peter." The back of this 
chair was adorned with a rich Cufic inscription which 
the learned Assemani desired Cornaro to decipher for 
his work. Cornaro, in a dissertation published in 1787, 
clearly proves the inscription to be Mohammedan, 



and composed of several verses of the Koran. Car- 
dinal Wiseman used several phrases in conducting 
this u rebutting case/' which gave offence to Lady 
Morgan. " Here then/' he concluded, " we have 
laid open the origin of Lady Morgan's foolish and 
wicked tale ; the story was repeated to her ladyship : 
she deemed it too well suited to her purposes of mis- 
representation to merit examination, and gave it to 
the public with all the assurance which points, and 
all the levity which wings the worst shafts of calumny. 
There is something truly profligate in her waste of 
human character, whether we consider her assassina- 
ting private reputations, by personal anecdote, or 
cutting down whole classes of men as in the instance 
we have been confuting." 

Lady Morgan read the confutation, but was not 
convinced by it. She addressed to the Cardinal. a 
portly pamphlet in reply which ran through five 

"It is possible/' she wrote, "that among your 
Eminence's Caudatorii (or trainbearers) there may be 
some one literary and clerical genius fired with the 
ambition to edite your works, when I shall be no 
longer living to defend mine, and who. may hand 
me down to posterity (my only chance) marked with 
the cachet of your Eminence's reprobation. Self- 
defence is the first law of nature, common to all created 

" ' That live and move, and have a being,' 

and I am sure your Eminence will approve as a 
man, as a gentleman, and as a Christian, even of a 
woman availing herself of the great immunity, and 
bringing her poor reasoning instincts to bear upon 
an attack made against her by so potent and illus- 
trious an opponent. 



a And now, my Lord, to the charge. You open 
your ' Kemarks' thus :— ' Lady Morgan was origin- 
ally known to the public as a writer of romance. 
So long as she persevered in that character, she had a 
right to invent amusing tales to gratify the curiosity 
of her readers : yet even the regions of fiction are 
subject to the great laws of justice and good faith ; 
nor can that writer hope for indulgence, who, under 
the disguise of a fabulous narrative, conceals an 
attack upon the reputation and character of others/ 

" My Lord, I agree to every point of your observa- 
tion ; but I beg to pause here. My romances were 
not, as you assert, ' invented merely to amuse and 
gratify the curiosity of my readers/ They were 
written/or and in the great cause of Catholic Eman- 
cipation — the theme and inspiration of my early 
Authorship, and the conviction of my after-life. The 
titles of these books were Irish and Catholic. 1 The 
Wild Irish Girl/ 'O'Donnel/ < Florence Macarthy/ 
'The O'Briens and the OTlahertys/ &c.,— these 
were not names, as we say in Ireland, i to open a 
Church Pew with/" 

And she goes on to assure the Cardinal that her 
heroes were Irish patriots, and her models of pas- 
toral piety — Irish priests. Of her political labours in 
Ireland, through the medium of those " Romances" 
which the Cardinal had referred to slightingly, Lady 
Morgan said, that " like the nibbling of the mouse 
at the lion's net, she had assisted to set the noble 
creature free." 

" My Lord," she went on to say, " I thank you 
for the indulgence with which your Eminence otters 
me the benefit of this c ignorant mistake/ [and never 
did the Church grant a more gratuitous one !) but I 
decline profiting by it. My ' foolish and wicked 
story of the chair/ was no mistake — of mine at least. 



It was related to me and accepted in the most implicit 
faith, on the authority of two of the greatest travel- 
lers, antiquarians, and virtuosi of their age, who were 
of that illustrious corps of Savans, the friends and 
companions in peace, and the intellectual staff in war, 
of the Emperor Napoleon — Denon and Champollion. 
The night before our departure from Paris for Italy, 
on our first, last, and memorable visit, many dis- 
tinguished — I may say illustrious — men were as- 
sembled in our drawing-room in the Eue de Helder. 
Every one was offering an opinion as to objects most 
worthy of our notice, — when the Baron Denon, who, 
in one of the happiest phases of the most brilliant 
raconteur of his time, had been describing his visit to 
the Inquisition, when he accompanied Buonaparte 
into Spain, and when, satiated with the rueful relics, 
which that awful place revealed to his antiquarian 
curiosity, he fell asleep on the table of that terrible 
Hall of Council, where he actually passed the night 
— then related the anecdote of the discovery of the 
Chair of St. Peter, adding, ' The inscription was in a 
cufic character, that puzzled even Champollion and 
the most learned Arabic scholars of the Institute 
And thus, f I told the tale as it was told me/ care- 
lessly and fearlessly, which has drawn down on my work 
the anathema of your Eminence's e Remarks on Lady 
Morgan's Statements regarding St. Peter's Chair/ v 

This pamphlet contained a considerable quantity of 
ingenious special pleading. 

" But is it probable, my Lord, that St. Peter, the 
humble fisherman of Galilee, permitted himself to be 
seated or carried in this gorgeous chair, on the 
shoulders of slaves, as his successor Pio Nono does at 
this day ? — he who had so recently heard his Divine 
Master declare that ' foxes had holes, and the birds of 
the air had nests, but the Son of Man hath not where 



to lay his head/ — he, to whose Eastern habits such a 
chair must have been repugnant ! who had taught, 
not ex cathedra, but, like the Master he served, 
walking or reclining on the lap of earth ? v 

Apropos of this, a learned Orientalist declared that 
Denon's account of the Chair would be, if true, ex- 
tremely curious, as the Mahometans never used chairs 
at all. 

Some persons objected that Cardinal Wiseman's 
" Refutation" appeared somewhat tardily. Its ap- 
pearance in 1849, however, was a mere reprint. 
In the "Catholic Magazine" for May, 1831, an 
article of hostility towards Lady Morgan on the 
subject of St. Peter's Chair, signed N. W., and 
accompanied by a rude wood-cut, may be found. 

Lady Morgan's eye sight was not much im- 
proved by this troublesome controversy with Cardinal 
Wiseman. The curious out-of-the-way Latin works 
which she carefully examined, and adroitly quoted 
with a view to sustain her in the wordy conflict, 
could never have been accessible to any other 
woman but herself. The acquaintance with Eccle- 
siastical Black-letter tomes, displayed by Lady 
Morgan in this pamphlet, was striking. 

Lady Morgan's eyes enjoyed undisturbed repose 
from this date, save when an application readied the 
veteran authoress for her autograph ; and requests of 
this character, she was always too amiable and too 
vain to refuse. Authors' u autographs" are, in 
general, stately looking signatures, remarkable for 
nothing but hair-strokes, down strokes, and a flourish. 
But whenever Lady Morgan furnished her autograph 
" by desire," she contrived to infuse into it a dash 
of that quaint and unctuous wit which had so long 
been a speciality with her. We transcribe one as a 
specimen : — 

u 2 


" Autograph by desire of W. J. F Esq. 

u Sydney Morgan, her hand and pen — 
She will be good, but God knows when. 

" William Street, Albert Gate, 17th May, 1853." 

We have said that Lady Morgan had vanity, but 
it was a vanity so quaint and sparkling, so unlike in 
its frank honesty, to all other vanities, that it became 
absolutely a charm. " I am vain," she once said to 
Mrs. Hall, u but I have a right to be so ; look at 
the number of books I have written !* Have I not 
been ordered to leave a kingdom, and refused to 
obey ? Did ever woman move in a more false or a 
brighter sphere, than I do ? My dear, I have three 
invitations to dinner to-day, one from a Duchess, 
another from a Countess, a third from a diplomatist 
— I will not tell you who — a very naughty man, who, 
of course, keeps the best society in London. Now 
what right, have I, my father's daughter, to this? 
What am I ? A pensioned scribbler ! yet I am 
given gifts that queens might covet. Look at that 
little clock, that stood in Marie Antoinette's dressing- 
room. When the Louvre was pillaged, Denon met 
a bonnet rouge with it in his hand, and took it from 
him ; Denon gave it to me." Then, with a rapid 
change she added, "Ah! that is a long time ago, 
though I never refer to dates. Princes and prin- 
cesses, celebrities of all kinds, have presented me 
with the souvenirs you see around me, and that 
would make a wiser woman vain. But do they not 
shew to advantage, backed by a few yards of red 
cotton velvet ? If ladies did but know the value of 
that same velvet— know how it throws up, and 
throws out, and turns the insignificant into the signi- 

* Mr. JearYerson, in his " Memoirs of the Novelists," says that 
Lady Morgan was the author of seventy volumes. 



ffeant — we should have more effect and less uphol- 
ster) in our drawing-rooms." 

In 1854, Mr. Bryce, the publisher, suggested to 
Lady Morgan the expediency of reprinting, in one 
Volume for popular rending, the " Life of Salvator 
Rosa." The veteran authoress dictated to her ama- 
nuensis a new preface to the book, which has all the 
pith, point and animation of her best productions. 
Prefixed to this new edition is a handsome copper- 
plate portrait of Salvator Rosa, from the original 
picture in the possession of the Marquis of West- 
minster. We subjoin the Preface. 

" Did Salvator live now, one might fancy him 
joining the ranks of the gallant defenders of national 
independence and civilization; standing out, like one 
of his own bold figures, upon the heights of Bala- 
klava, pencil in hand and revolver in belt, realizing 
for the homage of posterity, the grand battle raging 
below, till, borne away by his kindling sympathies, 
he flings down his pencil, and plunging into the 
melee meets a glorious death, or shares a not less 
glorious victory. 

u With respect to the authorship of the 1 Life of 
Salvator Rosa/ it was written con amove in the 
prime of the author's life, and of her enthusiasm 
for Italy. Of the principle which animates it, 
time has not r bated one jot' nor quenched one 
sympathy. The style in which it was written may 
now, perhaps, be deemed rococo, by the censors of 
the modern free-and-easy school, who write that 
loose who run may read. Such as it is, however, it 
was the style with which tin 4 author won her spurs, 
under the command of Field Marshal '(Vl)onncl/ 
and other heroes, native and foreign, who cham- 
pioned to their utmost the sublime cause of right 
and their country's independence. If, ".lowcver, 


with the conceit of other veterans, she now ' shoul- 
ders her crutch, and shews how fields were won," she 
pleads that she served, though only as a subaltern, 
in times of the greatest literary enterprise and 
mental competitorship that British genius ever 
produced since the Augustan ages of Elizabeth and 
Anne !" 

u To the week of her death," writes one of Lady 
Morgan's friends, " she continued to give receptions 
every night regularly — even Sunday — with plenty of 
chat and coffee. The house was not large, and it 
was nightly crammed with body and brain. Lady 
Morgan used to glide about throwing incendiary 
sparks of wit into every blase and inert group ; though 
almost blind, she seemed always au courant with 
the progress of Literature ; and every new book un- 
derwent oral criticism, in a style peculiar to herself. 
Her house was a complete repository of curious 
articles of vertu, antiques, historical relics, auto- 
graphs, and other memorials seldom revealed to the 
world. 1 was one night reclining in a fauteuil, when 
Lady Morgan glided up to me, saying, ' You may 

be glad to know, Mr. , that the seat you are 

sitting on, was Horace Walpole's study chair. I 
bought it myself at the sale at Strawberry Hill 1 n 

"Everything in these rooms," observes Mrs. Hall, 
"was artistic, and when filled, you might have ima- 
gined yourself in the presence of Madame de Genlis, 
feeling that after the passing away of that small form 
which enshrined so much vitality, and so large and 
expansive a mind, the last link between us and the 
Aikins, the Barbaulds — the D'Arblays, would be 

It would be difficult to name a hostess more popu- 
lar than Lady Morgan. She possessed not only the 
art of pleasing, but of making every guest infinitely 



pleased with himself. Her cornucopia of frank and 
pleasant compliments were dispensed in every cornet 
of that crowded room. Not long before her death, 
a distinguished peer -solicited Lady Morgan to do the 
honours of a large reception and soiree, which some 
ladies had jokingly urged him to give. The veteran 
authoress eagerly embraced the novel proposal, and 
the elite of London si ill look back on thai memo- 
rable evening as the pleasantest ball of the season. 

Although an ardent votary of life and fashion, 
Lady Morgan did not forget that "in the midst, of 

life we are in death." In Ltt&4i she drew up hrr 
4i la$t will and testament/' wherein she appointed 

as executors Mr. Charles Wentworth Dilke, junior, 

Mr. Duncan Macgregor, and her niece, Mrs. Sydney 

Jones. Her personality, she declared, amounted to 

a sinn between fifteen and sixteen thousand pounds. 

This property she bequeathed to bet two nieces, 

Mrs. Jones, and Mrs. Edward (Jeale, and to her 

nephew by marriage, Mr. Marmion Savage, Lady 
Morgan also left specific bequests— chiefly pictures— 
as mementos to several of the nobility who were her 
distinguished and much-valued patrons; amongsl 
them the Duke of Wellington, the Marquis of Nor- 

manbj, tile Earl of Carlisle, Countess l>eauchamp, 
Viscountess ( 'oinbermere, and Viscountess Dun- 

parvan. The bust in marble of herself, taken m 
Lb30 by a Krench sculptor, d' Angers, she di- 
rected her exeCUtorsto present to one of the public 
galleries. We (rust, that the executors may yet 
present it to the Royal Dublin Society with the 

same generosity that induced tbem, in February 
1860, to place Lady Morgan's portrait, by Berthen, 
m the New National Gallery of Ireland, 

In L868, Lady Morgan drew up a new will or 
codicil, making some alteration in the bequest of 



her voluminous manuscripts'. She had formed, in 
the interval, a warm friendship for Mr. Hepworth 
Dixon, editor of the " Athenaeum," whom she pro- 
nounced to be the only real patron she had ever 
had. Mr. Wentworth Dilke was also named by her 
Ladyship as co-literary executor. In making this 
change, Lady Morgan took the precaution of writing 
"cancelled" over the condemned will; but as she 
neglected to do so in the presence of witnesses, some 
litigation on the subject has since been the result. 

u The world thought her vain and worldly," writes 
her niece, u but I must pay this tribute to her 
memory, by remarking that she denied herself many 
luxuries that her old age and infirmity might have 
entitled her to, in order to preserve for us intact, 
by economy and self-abnegation, the produce of her 

It has often been remarked that Lady Morgan's 
powers of conversation baffle all description. "Her 
unbounded, unfading, unfailing freshness of memory," 
observes a newspaper writer in 1855, "her liveliness 
of description, her inexhaustible wealth of anecdote, 
the readiness of repartee, the variety of humour, the 
pliability of wit, the occasional richness and abandon 
of fun, the great faculty of adjusting herself to all 
moods ; of drawing out all minds, the sovereign gift 
of making everybody pleased with himself, pleased 
with everybody else, and above all things, pleased 
with the amiable raconteuse herself — such is the 
charm which makes Lady Morgan's boudoir the 
pleasantest afternoon or evening rendezvous of 
London to all w r ho have privilege of admission." 

It is impossible not to be forcibly struck by 
the contrast of personal feeling and emotion which 
marked the early and the later days of Lady Mor- 
gan's existence. The morning of her life — usually 



a season of joy — was clouded by care and deluged 
in tears. They -were not "sun-shining showers/' 
over in a few moments, but dark, dense, and dreary. 
Let the reader glance back at pp. 63, 75, 82, 83, 
89, 90, and he will find some chance records of 
this long and gloomy era of care. But other evi- 
dence abundantly exists. In the year 1800, for 
instance, she feelingly refers to — 

" The griefs with which my later life has teem'd ; 
The loss of golden hopes I fondly dream'd, 
Of glittering expectations past away, 
As sun-ting'd vapours of a summer day | M 

And are not the concluding expressions of un- 
certainty, as the , authoress vainly endeavours to 
explore the womb of time, particularly touching 
and interesting ? — 

" What sweet and sad extremes I'm doom'd to know 
From bliss ecstatic to corrosive woe ; 
Obscur'd, conceal'd, my future prospects lie, 
Nor more I know than that I'm born to die." 

Some of Lady Morgan's myriad foes were wont, 
among other calumnies, to accuse her of insincerity. 
The fact is, however, that her literary ability was 
only surpassed by the strength and fidelity of her 
friendships. "There is/' writes one of Lady Mor- 
gan's former guests, " no instance of any of her 
friends or acquaintances being at any time set aside, 
disregarded, or overlooked. The memory of the 
heart was with her particularly strong and reten- 
tive. However intended to shine in wide circles, 
Lady Morgan was never so engaging as in petit 
comite; however gracefully at ease amongst the 
highest, however all alive amongst the highest, she 
was never so perfectly at home as amongst her 
friends. Her wit and humour were never so ir- 



resistible as when blended with natural and generous 
outbursts of feeling/' 

Among her friends and guests was an accomplished 

lady, Miss de S s. On her marriage, in 1856, 

Lady Morgan sent her a cambric-worked eider-down 
pillow, lined with rose-coloured satin, and accompa- 
nied with the following impromptu lines which are 
now published for the first time: 

" While friendship and love their rich trihutes combine, 
To adorn your fair person, and gay, bridal shrine, 
With gems, jewels, and trinkets, tiaras and rings, 
Albums, prayer-books, km kms< and other good things, 
With caskets all glittering in velvet and gold, 
And pur eoq de per/e, these treasures to hold, 
While some sorry swain brings his typical willow — 
May / humbly offer my cider-down pillow ; 
Be it typical, too, of a life of repose, 
All flowery and downy, and couieur de rose. 1 * 

The remarkable constitutional pertinacity with 
which Lady Morgan retained, even after she had 
become an octogenarian, all her pristine vivacity, and 
power of fascination, was pleasingly noticed by the 
" Athenaeum" a month or two previous to our author's 
death. The vigilant editor of that influential journal 
would seem to have regarded Lady Morgan in her 
green old age, as a dear old evergreen which had 
sustained many a storm, and which it behoved him, 
in his capacity of pruner and cultivator in the garden 
of literature, to encourage occasionally by acts of 
generous and thoughtful attention. " As she then 
sang," observed the " Athenaeum," " she still sings. 
Some harps seem never worn and never out of tune. 
The chords obey her hands, as in the former day, 
throbbing as she flings across them eloquent and 
sprightly music. This faculty of liveliness, and 
bantering good humour, is strange, as it is admir- 
able in one whose long life has been, so to say, a 



succession of siege and storm. In her youthful time, 
Lady Morgan was less a woman of the pen than a 
patriot and a partizan. Her books were battles. 
'The Wild Irish Girl' was her Marengo — 'France' 
her Rivoli—' Florence McCarthy/ her Austerlitz — 
1 Italy/ her Borodino. She underwent no Leipsic or 
Waterloo — the last calamity of noble minds — yet she 
must have suffered from the hail of shot and shell. 
Through more years than we care to say, her name 
was as signs among the combatants, her voice 
sounded as a trumpet through Whig and Tory 
camps, and a new book from her hand drummed a 
host of enemies and friends to arms. She wrote, 
too, in an age when, to be a woman, was to be 
without defence, and to be a patriot, was to be a 
criminal. Yet her spirits seem to preserve themselves 
into a mild old age ; joyous as though her stream of 
life had run between green and liowery banks- 
graceful and noiseless — her girlhood, a romantic 
dream — her womanhood a prophetic care, blessed and 
crowned with that diadem of peace which the wise 
man covets for the daughter of his love." Knowing 
that the gods themselves are old. but forgetting that 
the Muses are always young, the " Athenaeum/' in re- 
viewing her Diary, observed that, u Lady Morgan had 
lived through the love, admiration, and malignity of 
three generations of men, and was, in short, a literary 
Ninon, and seemed as brisk and captivating in the 
year 1859, as when George was Prince, and the 
author of Kate Kearney divided the laureatship of 
society and song with Tom Moore/' Lady Morgan 
viewed this kind courtesy with mingled feelings. 
She felt grateful and tlattered by the applause of the 
u Athenaeum but she did not altogether like to be 
reminded of her advanced age, or that those over 
whom she still exercised a strange witchery offascina- 



tion should be informed of it. Under the influence 
of these feelings she addressed to her reviewer the 
following lines, which strikingly exhibit her vigour 
of thought to the last : — 

" My life is not dated by years, 

For time has drawn lightly his plough, 
And they say scarce a furrow appears 
To reveal what I ne'er will avow. 

Till the spirit is quenched, still a glow 

Will fall o'er the dream of my days, 
And brighten the hours as they flow 

In the sun-set of memory's rays. 

For as long as we feel we enjoy, 

And the heart sets all dates at defiance, 

And forgetful of life's last alloy, 
With Time makes a holy alliance. 

Then talk not to me of 11 my age," 

I appeal from the phrase to the fact, 
That I'm told in your own brilliant page 

I'm still young in fun, fancy, and tact."* 

Sydney Morgan. 

* Since the appearance of these lines in " The Friends, Foes 
and Adventures of Lady Morgan," we received a letter from a 
popular author, loudly crying "Stop Thief!" against her lady- 
ship, for having 14 committed a plagiarism on B)ron." He cites 
from the noble bard; — 

M My life is not dated by years, 

There are moments which act as a plough 
And there is not a furrow appears 
But is deep in my soul as ray brow." 

Our correspondent goes on to say : " On the same page of 
Byron's works from wiiich I quote, occur these lines on youth and 

" Oh talk not to me of a name great in story, 
The days of our youth are the days of our glory." 

There is, however, something so frank and undisguised in the 
adaptation, that we are inclined to think Lady Morgan fully iu- 



Lady Morgan was, indeed, pre-eminent in "fun 
and tact/'' If a friend complimented her on her looking 
so much better, she would reply, " perhaps I am 
better rouged than usual ; what am I after all but an 
old Almanack with a new title P" A lady who was 
wont to indulge in insincere smiles of benignity, 
once said, "Dear Lady Morgan, how lovely your 
hair is — how do you preserve its colour?" "By 
dyeing it, my dear, I see you want the receipt." Lady 
Morgan disliked to be cross-questioned about her 
writings, and recoiled from the topic as " shoppy." 
A certain pompous lady of the pen, who frequently 
questioned Lady Morgan as to what she was doing, 
and where she got her " facts," asked one evening, 
when Miladi was very brilliant and entertaining, her 
authority for some fact in "Italy." Twisting her 
large green fan, and flashing upon the querist the 
full blaze of her lustrous eyes, she replied, tf We all 
imagine our facts, you* know— and then happily forget 
them ; it is to be hoped our readers do the same." 

Sir Emerson Tennent observes that the examples 
we have given, recall vividly the sparkling energy of 
Lady Morgan's conversation. u The last occasion/' pro- 
ceeds Sir Emerson, " of our having Lady Morgan at 
our house a few months before her decease, I could 
not but congratulate her on the vigorous health 
which she was then enjoying, and she rejoined by 
saying, 'she believed that we might all live just as 
long as we liked — and that, in fact, she looked upon 
any one that would die under a hundred as a 
suicide V " * 

tended her verses to be viewed as an ingenious parody on the 
beautiful lines of Byron. This is the more likely, as Byron's lines 
are serious and sentimental, while Lady Morgan's are humorous 
and playful.— W. J. F. 

* Letter from Sir J. Emerson Tennent, Sept. 12, 1859. 


111 health came at last. In May, 1858, LaJy 
Morgan was completely prostrated by a virulent 
attack of bronchitis — a disease which had, in the 
previous November, consigned her brother-in-law, 
Sir Arthur Clarke, to the grave. No hope was 
entertained of Lady Morgan's recovery for many 
days ; but an unexpected rally, attributable, in a 
great degree, to her own patience and tranquillity of 
mind, enabled the fair octogenarian to cheat death 
for the nonce. Undaunted by his near approach, 
she promptly availed herself of convalescence to 
resume her old and brilliant position as queen of a 
sparkling coterie. But she did not devote her new 
spell of health and intellectual vigour to conversation 
exclusively. With the aid of Miss Jewsbury, as 
amanuensis, she arranged for publication a volume 
of her Diary and Correspondence, extending from 
August 1818, to May 1819. This period, as the 
reader may remember, was spent by Lady Morgan in 
London and Paris, in preparation for her visit to, 
and great work on, Italy. These " Passages from 
my Autobiography," which were published by Mr. 
Bentley, in January, ls59, possessed some traces 
of the fault by which Moore's Memoirs and Diary 
were disfigured, namely, a too obviously intense 
enjoyment of fashionable celebrity and society, and 
the same excessive desire for aristocratic praise 
and recognition. The book contains several amusing 
passages, but, on the whole, wants depth and senti- 

Poor Lady Morgan's health was ricketty from 
this date. Night air, or a damp atmosphere, rarely 
failed to tell severely on her constitution. She was 
ordered by her medical adviser to w T ear a respirator 
— an appendage which she, by no means, enjoyed. 
Her chief dislike to it arose from the fact that it 



completely padlocked conversation. Yet unpoetical 
in its object and unpleasing in its associations, as 
tin's medicinal invention must be considered, we find 
it furnishing a happy vein of inspiration to one of 
Lady Morgan's friends. The lines now appear for 
the tirst time. 

To a Respirator intended for the use of Sydney, 
Lady Morgan. 

As Pagans guard the temples which enshrine, 

Their fondly worshipped idols, deemed diviue, 

As one entrusted with a jewel rare, 

Preserves its casket with attentive care, 

As anxious misers watch their treasured wealth, 

M atch thou, the treasure of thy lady's health. 

A precious trust, fulfill thy duty well, 

Unkindly frosts, and wintry winds repel, 

Preserve the casket where a jewel lies, 

Which long has charmed, whose brightness still we prize, 

Guard well the honoured temple where enshrined 

Worth, wit, and genius form a woman's mind. 

"The last time we saw the ' Wild Irish Girl/ " 
observes Mrs. Hall, H she was seated on a couch in 
her bed-room, as pretty and picturesque a ruin of old 
lady womankind, as ever we looked upon ; her black 
silk dressing-gown fell round her petite form, which 
seemed so fragile that we feared to see her move. 
We recalled to memory Maria Edgeworth, having 
believed her to be the smallest great woman in the 
world, but Lady Morgan seemed not half her size. 
Yet her head looked as noble as ever ; the lines of 
her face had deepened, but her large luminous eyes 
were bright and glistening, her voice was clear and 
firm, her manner subdued — she was not at all restless, 
but spoke with confidence of arranging her autobio- 
graphy, of which she had sent forth a little portion 
as an avant courier. She shewed us a large black 
trunk which she told us had, w r hen she married, con- 



tained her trousseau — ' during the happy interreg- 
num between hoops and crinolines/ — and now was 
filled with manuscript ; she spoke with affection of 
the dear relative, i who never suffered her to feel that 
she was childless/ of her devoted servants (and they 
certainly deserved her praise) and of the kindness of 
her friends. She gave voice to one or two little 
sarcasms that shewed her acuteness was undirnmed ; 
but the hour flew swiftly and harmoniously; we 
promised to come some evening soon, and rejoiced 
her maid by saying that though her ladyship was 
changed, she looked much better than we expected. 
We heard, what we know to be the case, that Lady 
Morgan during her illness, and indeed, always to her 
servants, was the most patient and gentle of mis- 
tresses. An unamiable woman could not have been 
beloved, as she was, by all around her." 

Poor Lady Morgan did not long survive the pub- 
lication of her " Odd Volume," as she herself styled 
it on the fly-loaf. She passed tranquilly into eternity 
on April 14th, 1859, aged eighty-four, and with her 
became extinct the last illustration of high AVhig 
society belonging to the world of Byron, Rogers, and 

"Life was so strong," observed the f Athenaeum/ 
in recording her death, "and spirits were so brilliant 
in the woman of genius who departed from among us 
only a few hours since, — enjoyment of society was so 
keen with her to the last, — habit of expression so 
eloquent, — and life and spirits and expression kept 
such perfect pace with the interests of the day, the 
changes of the hour, — that while recording the 
death of Lady Morgan we feel something of sudden 
surprise, besides much of personal regret." The 
timid tendency to shrink from fashionable society 
which marked the early life of Sydney Owenson,- is 



exceedingly curious when contrasted with the passion- 
ate affection for it with which Lady Morgan's days 
closed. In 1799 the tiny girl, addressing her solitary 
bower, writes — 

" Oft from th' unmeaning crowd I'd fly, 
From fashion's vapid circle hie, 
And beneath thy umbrage sought 
The luxury of pensive thought." 

But although an ardent votary of fashion in the noon 
and evening of her life, Lady Morgan was keenly 
alive to the solemnity of death, and to the unseemli- 
ness of a fashionable cortege at her funeral. "Let 
no such ghastly mockery accompany my poor re- 
mains to their last resting place," she said ; u I 
desire that my funeral may be strictly private, and 
limited to a hearse and one mourning coach." 

On Tuesday morning, April 19th, 1859, a coffin ■ 
hardly larger than an infant child's, was lowered into 
the clay of old Brompton cemetery ; and to that 
historical grave many an Irish pilgrim will yet 
wander to gaze upon the storied slab* of 

Sjrtmeg 3Latjg fHorgau. 

This Life preaches a moral, but it is a moral dif- 
ferent from that which the panegyrists of Lady 
Morgan have hitherto sought to inculcate. 

Lady Morgan was not, as has been asserted, in 
Chambers' Cyclopaedia of English Literature, "a 
self-educated person." On the contrary, she received, 

* The memorial consists of a flat slab, supported by six pillars; 
below i3 a block of polished white marble, on which is inscribed 
" Sydney Lady Morgan," with the date of her death. The time 
of her birth is not mentioned. Above the inscription is an ancient 
Irish harp resting on two volumes, on one of which is written 
" Irish Girl," on the other " France." The tomb is backed by the 
dark foliage of Polish firs, which adds much to the effect. West- 
macott is the designer of Lady Morgan's tomb. 




as we have shown, no stint of schooling — so much 
that it absolutely disgusted her. Her early writings 
in themselves, smell of the hot atmosphere of the 
school-room : we feel ourselves sitting upon a hard 
form as we read ; and the ring of the pedagogue's 
birch more than once grates upon our ear. Sydney 
Owenson's acquaintance with foreign languages, and 
familiarity with English classical literature, is ap- 
parent to the very verge of pedantry in her first 
works, and shows, that the education of the au- 
thoress had been carefully attended to. The moral, 
therefore, is not, that by energetic self-culture in later 
life she tore from her mind the myriad cobwebs which 
alleged intellectual neglect, extending over many early 
years, had created ; but the lesson which her life 
teaches is based on the great fact, that with her own 
fragile female hand she parried undauntedly the 
assaults of a furious and organised host of Critic- 
Cut-Throats, and finally hurled them, one by 
one, to the ground, where the teeth that had been 
sharpened to gnaw this brilliant woman's heart, 
impotently bit the dust beneath her feet. Self- 
reliance and self-respect, without the support of 
which no genius can be secure or genuine, formed 
a prominent feature in her idiosyncracy. Those who 
are in fear of falling do nothing but stumble ; and 
impressed by the truth of the aphorism Sydney Lady 
Morgan, with queen-like dignity and confidence, pur- 
sued the opposite course' boldly. The blows aimed 
at her own fair fame she made recoil upon her as- 
sailants. The finest poetic genius that had ever 
shone on the world had been already quenched pre- 
maturely by the deadly grasp of John Wilson 
Croker ; a violent attack in the Quarterly Review, 
killed poor unresisting Keats. An unadorned slab, 
in the Churchyard of St. Werburgh, Dubliu, com- 



municates to the reader the melancholy fact, that 
Edwin, one of the most promising Irish actors, died 
in 1805, from a broken heart caused by an illiberal 
criticism in Croker's "Familiar Epistles on the Irish 
Stage."- "There is nothing so detestable," says 
Addison, " in the eyes of all good men, as defama- 
tion or satire aimed at particular persons. It de- 
serves the utmost detestation of all who have either 
the love of their country or the honour of their 
religion at heart. I have not scrupled to rank 
those who deal in these pernicious arts of writing, 
with the murderer and assassin. Every honest man 
sets as high a value upon his good name as 
upon life itself; and I cannot but think that those 
who privily assault the one, could destroy the other, 
might they do it with the same security and 
impunity." To virulent criticism the brilliant Mon- 
tesquieu also fell an unresisting victim. Aristotle, 
accused by critics of ignorance and vanity, poisoned 
himself. Cummyns declared, shortly before his death, 
that some ill-natured criticisms were hurrying him 
to eternity. Hereclitus, persecuted by his country- 
men, retired in disgust from the world. Anaxan- 
drides, dreading hostile criticism, burned his dramas. 
Racine died of extreme sensibility to a rebuke, and 
exclaimed that one severe criticism outweighed all 
the gratification which the concentrated praise of 
his admirers could produce. The melancholy death of 
Dr. Hawkesworth is attributed to a similar circum- 
stance. Marsham burnt the second part of his valuable 
" Chronology " because some flippant critics assailed 
the first. Bentley succumbed to the jealous cavils 
of Conyer Middleton, and abandoned the publication 
of his best book. Pelisson records the death of a 
promisiug young tragic author from the effects of 
L'Etoile's criticism. Eitson went mad from critical 

x 2 



persecution, and died under the hallucination that 
scribes surrounded his death-bed armed with 
weapons for his destruction. The learned Abbe 
Cassagne also went mad and died from a stroke of 
Boileau's literary lightning. Scott of Amwell never 
recovered from a ludicrous criticism. Batteux be- 
came a prey to excessive grief. Newton suffered 
from the malignant jealousy of Leibnitz and others, 
and abandoned the publication of a valuable work 
on Optics in consequence of cavils. Innumerable 
instances might be cited to shew the number of 
brilliant minds who in all ages have weakly suc- 
cumbed to the poisoned shafts of ambushed an- 
tagonism. What a vast amount of valuable literary 
and scientific achievement, have been thus lost ir- 
recoverably to the world! We do not deprecate 
adverse criticism when 'offered fairly and conscien- 
tiously ; but we detest to see it made the vehicle of 
malignant assault from private or party motives, as 
was the case with the majority of the examples we 
have cited. Had Sydney Morgan bared that heart 
which blazed with pure patriotism, to the dastard 
stab, and submitted her dead body to be trampled 
upon, as Aristotle, Racine, Hawkesworth, Ritson, 
Cassagne, Montesquieu, and Keats, submitted and 
were trampled, this memoir would have had but 
an inferior moral to dignify it. That brilliant wo- 
man, however, grappled with the arm which sought 
to destroy her fair reputation, and possibly her life > 
and like the good fairy crushing the Evil Genius 
in a Pantomime, she smote the aich-Foe to the 
earth, and placed her tiny foot, cased in white satin, 
upon his ponderous coat of mail ! 



A fact, illustrative of this somewhat obscured period of Lady 
Morgan's life, reached us at too late a moment to embody in its 
proper place. The following extract from a letter of John 
Fetherstonehaugh, Esq., J. P., may be read in connection with 
the details given at page 80. "In 1798, Miss Owenson entered 
my father's house (Bracket Castle) as governess ; she was intro- 
duced by Fontaine, the dancing master. She scribbled much 
poetry, and I well remember that having one day appealed to 
Mr. Gouldsberry, my father's tutor, who w r as a second Dr. 
Johnson, for his opinion on some piece, he replied by throwing it 
into the fire. Seeing her abashed, he told her not to be dis- 
heartened, but to try her hand on prose, in which she was likely 
to be successful."